DDOT Presentation on ARPA

David Gifford
7 min readOct 5, 2022

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As live Tweeted by Kayleigh Lickliter

Mikel Oglesby, Executive Director of DDOT, is presenting on their plan for the ARPA funding they’re receiving.

Here’s how the public ranked proposed projects using ARPA funds

Some more details about the proposed projects

Potential Projects include a mobility transit hub and improved bus stops. Hubs would meet the needs of multiple modes of transportation including e-bikes

Another potential project is a connection corner featuring high visibility crosswalks and in-lane bus stops.

Back to proposed projects. Oglesby said the original low-income fare program feasibility study was pre-pandemic and before ridership numbers dropped. The study is already funded by DDOT Reimagined.

Other proposed projects include enhancing Rose Parks Transit Center and new electronic air filters (on-the-bus safety)

Here’s a breakdown of the funding for each proposed project

And that’s a wrap on the presentation portion! Now to Q & A

Sheffield asked about wait times. She said she received questions when she was visiting a senior center. Oglesby said he looked into the specific instance she mentioned and the driver has a mandatory union meeting so he had to be pulled off the route.

Of course, when you pull a driver off a route that bus can’t run unless DDOT has another driver they can pay overtime which Oglesby said they couldn’t do that day.

Oglesby said if DDOT can get more drivers, they’ll be in better shape. They’re still over 100 bus drivers short. They’ve restructured bus routes to accommodate the lack of staff.

Since January, Oglesby said DDOT has hired almost 100 drivers. Only 30 of them are actually driving today.

“We’re getting them on board. They’re coming in and then they leave for whatever reason. Some leave because they get their CDL, they say”

Oglesby said the drivers are leaving for jobs that pay higher wages. They’re working on a document drivers would be required to sign that won’t allow them to do that anymore.

Another reason drivers have left is because they realize there’s an actual schedule involved. Oglesby said this isn’t Uber or Lyft and drivers have left because of that.

Others don’t pass the disciplinary period.

Regarding service line reliability, Oglesby encouraged riders to watch the bus tracker. Riders can look at the tracker and figure out if they need to make alternative plans. “That was the purpose of it until we fix the problem”

Oglesby said he hopes they’ll be able to add more customer service reps to answer the phone during the next budget discussions.

Santiago-Romero asked if bud riders were surveyed about the proposed projects. Oglesby said they were and Mr. Cunningham came in “very handy”

Santiago-Romero asked about the status of restrooms for bus operators. Oglesby said he thinks the issue was time, not access. Bus drivers have a list of locations they confirmed they can use.

Regarding the time that drivers have to use the restroom, Oglesby said planning staff is all over it and they’re looking at ways they can solve the problem.

Santiago-Romero asked about ADA compliance. Oglesby said part of the plan to replace all the bus shelters includes the cost of making them ADA-compliant

Staying on the topic of ADA compliance, Durhal asked what DDOT is doing to ensure buses are comparable with other cities in terms of seating, lifts, etc.

Oglesby said “we are where we need to be, as far as equipment, we have the best equipment out there”

Oglesby said the new flyer bus has the appropriate ADA-compliant ramps. He doesn’t think the issue is the actual buses rather it’s training drivers to assist individuals with disabilities. They’re doing a lot of training currently.

Durhal said he rode a bus in Virginia and he appreciated witnessing how the bus driver handled an individual who was in a wheelchair.

Oglesby said there have been unique situations. As an example, he said someone got on a bus and put their stroller where a wheelchair would go.

Oglesby said drivers are trained to mediate situations such as the one described. Overall, they handle them on a case-by-case basis.

Durhal asked where DDOT is at with paratransit. He said they receive a lot of calls from seniors and individuals with disabilities who’ve said it needs improvement.

Regarding paratransit, Oglesby said they’re going to bring paratransit in-house. They’ll be doing a presentation during an upcoming council meeting. No confirmation of when, he did say “at the next meeting or the meeting after that”

DDOT is in the process of hiring all of the necessary internal staff to bring paratransit in-house. They have a manager overseeing the process and all managers are on board. They’re looking at schedulers and compliance needs now.

⚡️Oglesby said they fully anticipate DDOT will take over paratransit services by January!

Whitfield-Calloway asked about electric buses. DDOT currently has four electric buses on the road. Oglesby said they try to spread them out along routes. They were approved for a grant that will allow them to purchase 4 additional buses

The current buses are ProTerra. They don’t know yet which provider/manufacturer they want to provide all of DDOT’s buses. New Flyer also has electric buses. They’ll have 2 additional electric new flyer buses.

Oglesby briefly discussed a pilot program where DDOT would have one ConnectTen route running solely 60' electric buses. He said his vision for down the road.

Oglesby said they don’t want to receive money and put electric buses in just because the money’s there and then later realize they can’t perform in the weather in Detroit. They want to see how the buses perform. They’ll be running the electric buses throughout the winter.

Whitfield-Calloway asked how old someone has to be to drive a bus. Oglesby said he think it’s 18 but he’s not sure. “I’ve never been asked that question because I’ve just hired anybody that’ll come up to me”. A department within DDOT will tell them if they can drive or not.

Whitfield-Calloway said she thinks they’d have recruitment outreach in high school because a lot of students aren’t interested in going to college right away and could use a gap year to start a career. She suggested they start doing outreach in that way.

In response to Benson’s question about a regional transit detail in one of the PowerPoint slides, Oglesby said they need to ensure all transit providers are on the same platform to create a fair replacement program.

Benson asked what they’re doing to make transit a first choice rather than a last resource. Oglesby said “DDOT Reimagined. We’re in the process of doing it right now.”

Oglesby said they hope to have a preliminary report sometime in November and a plan in place by the first quarter next year.

Regarding the low-income fare program, Oglesby said the current program is old and outdated. The fare study will help ensure they have the most up-to-date data to determine costs before implementing a new program.

Oglesby briefly discussed rapid transit. He said it requires a dedicated lane where vehicles actually share the road with vehicles but there’s some signal prioritization or something similar. They would have to work with MDOT on that.

Part of DDOT Reimagined looks at how they can implement rapid transit.

DDOT has a CDL program and they’ve been talking to DESC about the Skills for Life program. They haven’t merged the two yet.

And that concludes DDOT’s presentation about their proposed plans for ARPA funding they’re receiving.

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David Gifford

Promotor of Detroit, public transit and transit equity. www.transitguidedetroit.com