Detroit adds service to Belle Isle on bus route

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Detroit — A city bus route now includes a stop at Belle Isle under a partnership between state parks officials and the city’s transportation department.

A DDOT bus stop sign.

The Detroit Department of Transportation and state Department of Natural Resources began providing the service Saturday along the existing Conant route.

“The DNR and DDOT have been working together for months to introduce bus service to Belle Isle Park,” said Ron Olson, chief of parks and recreation for the DNR, in a statement released Tuesday.

“As attendance at the park increased to more than 3.5 million visitors last year, it became increasingly important to provide additional transportation options to the island.”

The new bus service provides access on and off the island to residents, visitors and staff for the standard $1.50 bus fare. Riders will not be charged additional park entry fees and will not need a Recreation Passport for visitors taking the bus service onto the island, officials said.

The single stop on the island is located close to the island’s conservancy, aquarium and giant slide.

Service to Belle Isle on the No. 12 Conant bus route will run every 50 minutes. Route hours are 5:50 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Friday; 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday; and 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.

“We are glad that DDOT has the opportunity to take our customers to Belle Isle,” said Dan Dirks, director of DDOT. “It is another way which we are showing Detroit's citizens that DDOT is continuing to improve.”

The city previously discontinued bus service to Belle Isle in 2007.

The bus stop on Belle Isle will be located near the aquarium and slide.

Councilwoman Mary Sheffield, whose council District 5 covers Belle Isle, praised the decision to resume the service.

“Over one-third of Detroiters depend on public transportation, many of which work every day and pay taxes that are used to maintain Belle Isle,” Sheffield said. “So this announcement allows a significant portion of our population to have access to this jewel.”

The bus service is among the changes the state has planned for the island this year. Officials have also said they intend to incorporate a recycling program, conduct structural repairs to the island’s casino and White House and renovate athletic fields and courts. Fishing piers will also see upgrades as will seven of the island’s worst picnic shelters.

The state assumed its lease of the island Feb. 10, 2014, under a 30-year agreement reached by Gov. Rick Snyder and Detroit’s former emergency manager, Kevyn Orr.

Under state management, the island has seen nearly $20 million in investments and undergone numerous aesthetic changes.