DETROIT (AP) — The city of Detroit will receive more than $32 million in federal and state grants to buy up to 50 new hybrid and clean diesel buses for its aging public fleet, transportation officials said Thursday.
Nearly $26 million will come from the Federal Transit Administration’s Ladders of Opportunity Initiative. The state of Michigan will provide a 20-percent match.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the grants at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School. Detroit’s grant was among $100 million given to 24 recipients in 19 states.
The new buses in Detroit will help reduce overcrowding on some of the most heavily used routes and shorten the wait time for riders. Many residents who rely on Detroit’s bus system to get to jobs outside of their neighborhoods or the city have complained that wait times are too long.
“Fifty buses is what we need,” Mayor Mike Duggan told reporters Thursday at the school. “There is no service in this city that is worse right now than the bus service. It’s just terrible. We are literally taking buses that have been in wrecks and hammering out the front end and putting them back on the street.”
Detroit has 421 buses in its fleet, but 158 were bought a dozen or more years ago. The average age of Detroit buses is nine years compared to the national average of 7.5 years, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.
In January, Duggan complained after seeing people waiting at stops in subzero temperatures for behind-schedule buses. On Thursday, he reiterated his concerns, saying the city needs 225 buses running each day to keep routes on schedule. Currently, only 180 buses are available on a daily basis.
The Ladders of Opportunity Initiative supports the modernization and expansion of bus service nationally.
“Transportation is about more than getting from one point to another - it’s about getting from where you are to a better life,” Foxx said in a statement. “The Ladders of Opportunity grants will help communities to offer better access to jobs and schools and allow citizens to gain the life skills they need to achieve their goals.”
He said bus rides to schools in Detroit can take up to two hours.
“You deserve a bus system that keeps its promises and gets you there on time,” Foxx told Cass students.
Associated Press Auto Writer Tom Krisher in Detroit contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.