Michigan gets $12.8M in grants to improve busing

With 81,000 riders a day to work, to school, to the grocery store or doctor's appointments, buses are the backbone of public transportation in the city of Detroit.

"I think it's important to recognize the diversity and the breadth of people who rely on public transportation to meet their needs," said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.

Gilchrist says he rode the bus before being elected to state office and that having a safe, reliable busing system is important for everyone.

"It helps our educational outcomes, it helps our health outcomes, it helps our economic development goals, and it helps make our society more equitable," he said.

So the State of Michigan is happy to be awarded two grants for busing from the federal government.

"Michigan will be receiving $12.8 million in funding," said K. Jane Williams, FTA acting administrator.

And $4.3 million of that goes to Flint for its fleet of buses, and $8.5 million goes to Detroit's Department of Transportation -- all to update fare collection, reducing cash payments and speeding up boarding times. But some riders say they are other, more pressing issues, like broken buses and bus routes that don't run 24/7.

"I wish they put buses like that on 24-hour lines for people like us that need it - that need to get to work in the evening and can't because they stop running at a certain time," said Angela Patterson.

"We have more broken buses out here - we can hardly get around," said Janise Leonard.

But city officials say they're trying. Last week, they announced 40 new bus shelters and 30 new buses are currently on the roads. They say the grant money will go to another good cause.

"What we're looking to do is to continue to enhance the DDOT and the Detroit mobility experience, which includes bettering our amenities for our customers," said Angelica Jones, DDOT Interim Director.