- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

DETROIT (AP) - Detroit’s bus system is making enough significant improvements that the U.S. government is lifting financial restrictions on how the agency can access federal funding.

The government sent a letter to the city last month, notifying them that it was removing controls placed on the Detroit Department of Transportation, the Detroit Free Press (https://on.freep.com/2jAlSEm ) reported. In March 2013, the department lost its ability to easily access Federal Transit Administration grant funding as Detroit careened toward bankruptcy and city services, such as busing, rapidly declined.

The administration said it imposed the restrictions because the city wasn’t meeting federal requirements related to on-time bus pullouts and maintenance.

By 2015, DDOT purchased 80 new buses, with federal grant funding, that allowed the agency to meet its posted schedules for the first time in two decades.

The buses helped Detroit improve operations, expand routes and increase frequency of buses. A 24-hour service along some of its busiest routes was also added.

Last month’s letter from Marisol Simon, a regional administrator for the administration, said Detroit’s transportation department has since made significant improvements, including in its on-time departure rate and its preventative maintenance.

“FTA is very pleased with the improvements DDOT has made and we congratulate you on your efforts,” Simon said in the letter.

Dan Dirks, hired in 2014 to revamp DDOT, said FTA’s decision was “great news.”

“The FTA has been really great to work with,” he said. “We look to them in a much different light than existed in 2013.”

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, https://www.freep.com

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