Transit Guide: Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)

Flying into or out of Detroit Metro Airport? Here’s a guide for getting to and from the airport without a car. — Also featured in Curbed Detroit.

AirRide Service from DTW to Ann Arbor, Brighton & East Lansing

When most of us in Metro Detroit think about how to reach DTW (Detroit Metropolitan Airport), we usually consider driving ourselves, begging for a ride from friends or family or taking an Uber or Lyft. You may not know this but you can take public transit to the airport. Its not well advertised. We may not have a rail system connecting DTW to nearby cities but there are several bus options available that you may not be aware of. What if you don’t live along a bus route? Can you can still use public transit for part of or most of your trip? Yes you can. There are free Park & Ride lots along many bus routes you could drive to or you could reduce the cost of an Uber/Lyft trip by riding to a nearby bus stop along an airport route. Here are the many airport routes in Metro Detroit.

SMART Bus

SMART bus (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation) serves Metro Detroit with peak trips to downtown Detroit. To fare costs $2 per adult, $0.50 for youths (6–18), seniors and persons with disabilities with ID. The full fare is good for 4 hours of unlimited rides & transfers on SMART, DDOT & the QLine. 24hr, 7 day & 31 day passes are also available. Fares can be paid with cash on the bus, pre-bought online or using the DART Mobile App.

FAST Buses are regional express buses operated by SMART that run all day on Gratiot, Woodward and Michigan Ave, making limited stops along the route between the suburbs and downtown Detroit. They are all black with big white letters: “FAST” on the side. The FAST Michigan bus (Route #261) is the main airport route which starts on Jefferson & Woodward. For schedule info, click HERE.

  • Macomb County: Take or transfer to a FAST Gratiot SMART bus from any designated FAST stop along Gratiot Ave between 23 Mile and downtown Detroit. Park & Ride lots are located at the 23 Mile Meijer & Mount Clemens Farmers Market. Transfer to FAST Michigan to DTW at a designated FAST stop along Jefferson Ave.
  • Northern Macomb County: There is a new airport service for Chesterfield, Richmond, Armada and Macomb townships, as well as the villages of Armada and New Haven and the cities of Richmond and Memphis. It runs once a day and must be set up in advance. Call 1–844–666–5652.
  • Oakland County: Take or transfer to the FAST Woodward SMART bus from any designated FAST stop along Woodward between Pontiac or Troy Park & Ride to downtown Detroit. Transfer to FAST Michigan to DTW at the Grand Circus Park (Woodward & Clifford) or at Spirit Plaza. Walk to Jefferson Ave to a FAST stop for the transfer.
  • Wayne County: Take or transfer to the FAST Michigan SMART bus from downtown (Jefferson Ave or Woodward & Clifford) or any designated FAST bus stop along the way. There is a Park & Ride at Wyoming. (Routes 280 & 125 are also options from Garden City and Downriver respectively).
Photo by David Gifford

Michigan Flyer — AirRide

AirRide is a service from the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority and provided by Michigan Flyer. Rates vary by trip.

  • Washtenaw County: Take the Michigan Flyer-AirRide from the Blake Transit Center downtown Ann Arbor to DTW. It makes 14 weekday trips daily and base cost is $12 one way.
  • Livingston County: Take the Michigan Flyer-AirRide from the Meijer in Brighton to DTW. Parking must be prepaid ($2.50/day, 30 day max). It makes 14 weekday trips daily and base cost is $22 one way.
  • Ingham County: Take the Michigan Flyer-AirRide from the East Lansing Marriott Hotel to DTW. Parking must be prepaid ($2.50/day, 30 day max). It makes 14 weekday trips and base cost is $32 one way.

DDOT Bus

DDOT (Detroit Department of Transportation) costs $2 per adult and $0.50 per youths (6–18), seniors and persons with disabilities with ID. The full fare is good for 4 hours of unlimited rides & transfers on SMART, DDOT & the QLine. Fares can be paid with cash on the bus, at transit centers, administration offices, select retailers or using the DART Mobile App.

DDOT buses do not reach DTW but many routes connect with the FAST Michigan route which runs directly to the airport. See their system map & downtown map for more details.

TheRide

TheRide (Ann Arbor Transportation Authority) buses costs $1.50 per adult and $0.75 per youths (6–18), seniors and persons with disabilities. Transfers are free within 90 minutes.

TheRide buses do not reach DTW but many routes connect to the Blake Transit Center downtown Ann Arbor. Riders can then transfer to the AirRide bus. See their system map & downtown map for more details.

Do the Buses Stop At Both Terminals?

Yes, SMART & Michigan Flyer-AirRide buses stop at both the McNamara Terminal (Check-in & departures Air France Door) and at the North Terminal (Ground Transportation Center). This is also where you will also depart from by bus. See maps below.

DTW transit info — McNamara Terminal
DTW transit info — North Terminal

Taking transit from DTW Airport

Half the battle of taking a bus from DTW is knowing where the buses depart from once you’ve picked up your baggage. At the McNamara Terminal, the pickup/drop off location is at the Air France drop off. You’ll have to take the escalators or elevator from baggage claim to the top floor to the Air France drop off and look for the sign below that says in tiny letters “municipal transit” or the familiar red SMART Bus sign. There is a ground transportation area at the North Terminal. To reach it, passengers have to travel back up from the baggage area, over the foot bridge and down the elevators to reach it. See maps in previous paragraph for more info.

Photo by John Good

How Much Does it Cost?

Local Bus

Rates vary by bus company. Click each company for a breakdown of transit costs for SMART, DDOT & TheRide.

Michigan Flyer — AirRide

AirRide is a service from the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority and provided by Michigan Flyer. Rates vary by trip.

Schedules:

You can find schedules for the SMART buses here.

You can find schedules for the Michigan Flyer buses here.

You can find schedules for the DDOT buses here.

You can find schedules for the AATA buses here.

Transit Maps

Schedule & Route Info for Michigan Flyer
FAST Michigan Map

There you have it! Hopefully you can get to the airport without having to store your car there at $10 a day, pay $40+ for an Uber or rely on friends or family for a ride! See my website www.transitguidedetroit.com for more transit info. Want better transit? Donate to www.Detroittransit.org

Avid transit blogger from Metro Detroit. www.transitguidedetroit.com