October 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Bus system frustrates riders

67% of users say DDOT's snail-like transportation is too unreliable

Cecil Brown, 51, of Detroit waits to cross the street at the Hamilton/Seven Mile bus stop in Detroit on his way to work at a repair shop. “Sometimes, they show up an hour or two hours late,” he said about city buses. (Clarence Tabb Jr. / The Detroit News)

Residents have a poor view of Detroit's public transportation system — and like it even less the more they use it.

In a Detroit News survey of city residents, 53 percent of respondents said they disapprove of the transportation system overall.

And that disapproval was registered by two-thirds, 67 percent, of those who rely daily on a bus system that they described as irritating, frustrating and time consuming.

The poll of 800 residents was conducted by Chicago-based Glengariff Group for The Detroit News and the Thompson Foundation.

Maretta Lee Coyle-Hooks uses the Detroit Department of Transporation to get to medical appointments, a trip that requires her to change buses at least three times.

"With all those connections it takes hours just to get there," said Coyle-Hooks, 53. "They've cut back or eliminated so many routes that there's no transportation in the city anymore. I've had friends who have lost their jobs in the suburbs because they can't get back home.

"They can get to their jobs but there's no buses coming back into the city."

The survey found the vast majority of households, 88 percent, have a car.

Of those who don't, 46 percent said they rely on the bus system on a weekly basis, while 30 percent use it daily.

For longtime resident Cecil Brown, the frustration comes with buses that constantly run late.

"Sometimes, they show up an hour or two hours late," said Brown, 51.

"I can't drive any more and I can't afford taxis so I rely entirely on the bus system. I've seen some improvement lately, but all I can do is hope that it lasts."

City officials did not respond to requests seeking comment.

The survey also found a majority of residents, 62 percent, approve of proposals to build a light-rail system along Woodward Avenue.

The proposed M-1 street car line would have 11 stops along a three-mile stretch from Hart Plaza to the New Center area.

"The light-rail system is a good idea," said Detroit resident Maija Dravnieks, 39.

"I use a car once in a while, but mostly I walk or ride my bicycle. I'm an artist and I would use the light-rail system to get back and forth to the Detroit Institute of Arts."

Coyle-Hooks isn't a fan.

"It ain't gonna be anywhere near my neighborhood," she said.

"We'll still be out there waiting for the bus; frustrated and wasting time standing there in the sun, snow, rain and cold."

tgreenwood@detnews.com

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