Biden, Duggan to discuss Detroit’s bus progress

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Vice President Joe Biden and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan will hold a joint appearance Thursday and tour the city's transportation system — including new buses acquired with federal grants.

The event will take place at the Detroit Department of Transportation headquarters.

Last year, Duggan repeatedly called Biden, urging his help in getting the new buses.

"Detroit's getting off its back. It's on its knees. It's about to stand up," Biden said last year.

In September 2014, the U.S. Transportation Department announced it was awarding Detroit $25.9 million to buy as many as 50 new hybrid and clean diesel buses that will ease overcrowding, reduce wait times and provide more accessible and reliable service where 35 percent of the people live below the poverty line.

They will replace aging vehicles that have been "plagued by maintenance issues, resulting in better on-time service, as well as reduced carbon emissions," the department said.

In April, Duggan told The Detroit News that Biden has been "Detroit's very best friend... Every time we've had a critical issue to the quality of life of Detroiters, I've been able to go the vice president and he's always had time for us."

Duggan said Biden "was relentless in giving us guidance on what we needed to do to put our applications in to win the competitive bid" on the buses.

It marked the second boost from Washington in less than a year for the city's beleaguered bus system. In December 2013, the Federal Transit Administration approved $41.6 million to overhaul 60 buses, improve facilities and acquire security equipment.

The Transportation Department has said 60 percent of Detroiters don't have access to a car.

They rely on buses," Biden said in October. "They don't have enough buses so we just arranged for" funding for more buses.

"What does mean? It means people can keep the few jobs they have out there. They don't show up late. They are actually able to be on time. ... It means a working mom doesn't have to take two buses that take two hours to get to work."

He also praised the M-1 rail system "going right through the center of town" that also run federal support.

"The point is that it matters. Transportation and convenient transportation, efficient transportation matter to how people can live their lives," Biden said.