Detroit proposes $4,000 bus driver bonuses amid shortage that's leaving riders stranded

People who rely on buses to get around in Detroit are dealing with buses that don't show up.

"My Chene bus never comes. It comes maybe twice, maybe three times out of the week," one rider said. "It's hurting for me because like I said, I have to walk a mile just to catch another bus."

The city is dealing with a shortage of Department of Transportation drivers.

"My driver, he says to me, 'You know what, Ana? I came to work because no one else wanted to come," said Ana Safford. 

Now, the city is pushing to offer bonuses to get more drivers.

"What if we offered $4,000 in bonuses - $1,000 each quarter - for any driver who shows up for the normal work hours and does not have more than three unscheduled misses in a quarter," said Cunningham, DDOT rider and advocate.

The bonuses would make the bus driver pay range $36,000 to nearly $50,000. 

"Riders and drivers are together in this as well, so I'm very pleased and I hope that this translates to way better service and frequency for riders across the city," said Renard Monczunski, with the Transit Justice Team.

The plan heads to City Council for approval next.

"They are on the front lines every day. They have been there through Covid, and so today is a great day and a great announcement to let them know how much we appreciate them," said councilman Fred Durhal III.

The city has 90 bus driver jobs open. View the jobs here.

"We've been losing membership to SMART, we've been losing membership to Ann Arbor, and this will definitely help us to recruit, to bring some people on the payroll," said

If more drivers are hired, the city said more buses will be out by the end of the year, and there will be more frequent service on bus routes.