Detroit Department of Transportation

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Detroit Department of Transportation
DDOT 2022 New Flyer XD40 2223.jpg
Agency overview
JurisdictionDetroit and select surrounding cities
Headquarters1301 E Warren Avenue
Agency executive
  • G. Michael Staley (interim), Director
Parent agencyCity of Detroit

The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT, pronounced DEE-dot) is the primary public transportation operator serving Detroit, Michigan. In existence since 1922, DDOT is a division of the city government, headed by a director appointed by the mayor. Primarily serving Detroit and its enclaves, DDOT is supplemented by suburban service from the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART). In 2022, the system had a ridership of 9,425,700, or about 35,800 per weekday as of the second quarter of 2023.


Department of Street Railways

Restored ex-DSR bus 7618 built by Checker Cab at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania

The DDOT began its life as the Department of Street Railways (DSR) in 1922 after the municipalization of the privately-owned Detroit United Railway (DUR), which had controlled much of Detroit's mass transit operations since its incorporation in 1901.[1] The DSR added bus service when it created the Motorbus Division in 1925. At the height of its operation in 1941, the DSR operated 20 streetcar lines with 910 streetcars.[2] By 1952, only four streetcar lines remained: Woodward, Gratiot, Michigan and Jefferson. Streetcar services was discontinued in April 1956 with the decommissioning of the Woodward line. The DSR formally became the DDOT in 1974 under the Detroit City Charter.[3]


Between 2009 and 2012, the system's seven remaining limited and express bus routes (70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 76, and 78) were discontinued.[4]

Starting January 1, 2012, management of DDOT was contracted out to Parsons Brinckerhoff, an engineering and management firm. The firm subsequently subcontracted the management of the system to Envisurage, LLC a consultancy run by the former CEO of the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority.[5][6] On March 3, 2012, 24-hour service was discontinued, and other weekday and weekend routes and services were pared down, or eliminated entirely, in an attempt to produce savings for the department.[7] In August 2013, management of DDOT was contracted out to MV Transportation under the direction of Paul Toliver until September 2014. Dan Dirks was appointed director of the department by mayor Mike Duggan on January 9, 2014, for the duration of MV Transportation's contract.[8] MV Transportation's contract was extended for another two years on August 12, 2014.[9]

On January 23, 2016, DDOT reintroduced 24-hour service on three principal routes along with other smaller service changes.[10]

On September 1, 2018, the system's ten most popular routes were branded as "ConnectTen" and renumbered as routes 1-10, and received 24/7 service among other changes. The existing routes numbered 7, 9, and 10 were given higher route numbers to avoid conflict.[11]


In November 2021, the Detroit City Council approved plans to construct a new State Fair Transit Center, housed inside the disused Dairy Cattle Building, one of the last remaining structures from the State Fairgrounds.[12] The Council rejected a prior plan, which called for the historic building's demolition.[13] The original State Fair Transit Center, dating back to the streetcar era, closed permanently on November 6, 2022, and was promptly demolished; a temporary transit center was constructed in the former State Fair parking lot, 500 feet to the north, entering service the next day.[14][15][16] Construction began on the new permanent transit center in May 2023, with completion expected in March 2024.[17][18]

"Reimagined" network overhaul

In the summer of 2022, DDOT announced DDOT Reimagined, a plan to redesign the agency's route network and upgrade its infrastructure for better reliability, better coverage, more efficient travel, and reduced environmental impact. The plan's first phase, conducted that summer, consisted of public outreach to gather riders' input, through in-person and virtual meetings, workshops and pop-ups at popular bus stops.[19][20]

In Spring 2023, DDOT launched the second phase of Reimagined, which included a draft of the planned redesign.[19] The plan would upgrade every route in the system to run at least every 30 minutes, with many routes seeing 15-minute headways. Six routes – 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, & 10 – are slated for service every ten minutes (with route 4 running every 7½), and upgrades resembling bus rapid transit. These six, plus four other routes, would run 24/7 under this plan, with all other routes in the system running from 4 a.m. to 1 a.m., seven days a week.[21]

To achieve this plan, three of the system's least-used routes – 12, 40, & 46 – are slated for discontinuation, while four others – 23 & 39, 29 & 42 – would be combined into two resulting routes. Other routes would be rerouted, with some seeing extensions: of note is a proposed extension of route 17 into Livonia, a community which opts out of the suburban SMART system. A new route is also proposed, planned to run along the Detroit River, connecting Belle Isle with the Gordie Howe International Bridge.[21]

DDOT states that the planned redesign would mean 99% of regular riders would live within walking distance of a DDOT route, though the planned rerouting eliminates service on a number of streets. The agency is currently conducting another series of outreach events to gauge riders' opinion, with a mobile exhibit, inside a converted bus, making a two-month tour of the system's major hubs.[20]

In August 2022, DDOT's director, C. Mikel Oglesby, resigned. G. Michael Staley, previously DDOT's paratransit manager, was appointed by Mayor Mike Duggan to replace Oglesby in an interim capacity.[22]


2012 Gillig Low Floor
2015 XD60, rewrapped in the 2017-18 livery like many of DDOT's 2014-15 Xcelsiors
2021 ZX5

Fixed-route buses

DDOT's primary service is fixed-route buses, mostly serving the city of Detroit and its enclaves, Hamtramck and Highland Park. Some routes service neighboring suburban communities, including Dearborn, Harper Woods, Livonia, Redford, River Rouge, and Southfield.[23][24]

Bus service generally operates between 5 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday, while Sunday service starts approximately 7 a.m. and ends between 8 and 9 p.m.[25] Routes 3-8, 10, 16 and 17 have 24/7 service.[11]


Along with fixed-route bus service, DDOT also offers MetroLift, an on-demand paratransit service. MetroLift service is operated by four private contractors: Moe Transportation, Big Star Transit, Checker Cab Company, and Delray United Action Council.[26]

Detroit Downtown Trolley

An ex-Lisbon streetcar on Jefferson Avenue in 1991

The Detroit Downtown Trolley (originally the Detroit Citizens' Railway) was a heritage trolley built in 1976 as a U.S. Bicentennial project.[27] The trolley ran over a one-mile L-shaped route from Grand Circus Park to near the Renaissance Center, via Washington Boulevard and Jefferson Avenue, using narrow-gauge trams acquired from municipal rail services outside the U.S. Most of the Detroit cars that saw service from 1976 to 2003 had been acquired from Lisbon, Portugal.[28] Many Detroiters old enough to remember streetcar service from before 1956 were delighted with the nod to nostalgia that the service represented, but lack of business activity in downtown Detroit meant that ridership of the Downtown Trolley never became more than a novelty and declined to only about 3000 per year in the late 1990s; service was suspended in June 2003.[29][30]


Since 2019, DDOT, SMART, and the QLine have had a unified fare payment system, Dart.[31][32] Dart passes are available as digital passes through the Token Transit app, or as physical passes, which can be purchased from SMART's ticket offices in downtown Detroit and Royal Oak, the Rosa Parks Transit Center, SMART's online store, and select local businesses.[33] 4-hour and 24-hour passes can be purchased with cash onboard buses.

See also


  1. ^ Houston, Kay (2000-01-17). "Clang, clang, clang went the trolley". The Detroit News. Gannett. Archived from the original on 2013-02-15.
  2. ^ "Department of Street Railways (D.S.R.) 1941 Streetcar Route Map". Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  3. ^ "A Brief Look-Back at Detroit's Transit History". Retrieved 2014-03-23.
  4. ^ "DDOT Routes & Numbers". Retrieved 7 January 2014.
  5. ^ Kaffer, Nancy (5 January 2012). "Bing: Detroit won't run out of cash in April — thanks to cuts, more revenue". Crain's Detroit Business. Crain Communications. Archived from the original on May 17, 2023.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  6. ^ Bukowski, Diane (9 February 2012). "Bing to Slash Bus Routes, D-DOT Jobs Feb. 24; Contractor Gets Big $$$". Voice of Detroit. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  7. ^ Phelps, Greenwood, Laura, Tom (3 March 2012). "Changes to Detroit bus service in effect". The Detroit News. Retrieved 4 March 2012.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Mayor Duggan Names Dan Dirks as DDOT Director". City of Detroit Department of Communications and Creative Services. 9 January 2014. Archived from the original on 25 February 2014. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  9. ^ "City of Detroit Extends Administrative Support Services Contract with MV Transportation". MV Transportation. Archived from the original on 11 November 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  10. ^ "DDOT Service Change Proposal, January 2016" (PDF). Detroit Department of Transportation. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  11. ^ a b "New DDOT ConnectTen service to add 500 trips per week with 15-minute peak hour frequency, Wi-Fi". Detroit Department of Transportation. August 28, 2018. Retrieved November 1, 2018.
  12. ^ Afana, Dana. "Detroit City Council OKs new transit center at old State Fairgrounds site". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2023-05-14.
  13. ^ Afana, Dana. "Fate of Detroit transit hub, historic buildings at former fairgrounds expected". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2023-05-14.
  14. ^ "STATE FAIR TRANSIT CENTER CLOSURE & RELOCATION NOVEMBER 7, 2022". Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation. 2022-11-03. Archived from the original on 2022-12-04.
  15. ^ Huffman, Bryce (2022-11-21). "Some bus riders left cold and confused by temporary State Fair transit hub". Bridge Detroit.
  16. ^ "DDOT announces new transit hub location as work on new State Fair Transit Center continues". City of Detroit. 2022-11-04. Retrieved 2023-07-30.
  17. ^ Lawrence, Eric D. (2023-05-03). "Detroit transit center construction underway at old state fairgrounds". Detroit Free Press. Gannett. Retrieved 2023-05-14.
  18. ^ Plaid, Andrea (2023-05-09). "Detroit State Fair Transit Center to Transform Transportation in the City". The Michigan Chronicle. Retrieved 2023-05-14.
  19. ^ a b Barrett, Malachi (2023-04-24). "Detroit Department of Transportation wants residents to help overhaul bus service through 'reimagined' plan". Bridge Detroit. Retrieved 2023-05-14.
  20. ^ a b "DDOT Reimagined". Detroit Department of Transportation. 2023-04-24 – via Internet Archive.
  21. ^ a b "DDOT Route Recommendations" (PDF). Detroit Department of Transportation. 2023-04-24.
  22. ^ Afana, Dana (2023-08-22). "Detroit Department of Transportation director Mikel Oglesby resigns after 3 years". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2023-09-10.
  23. ^ "System Map" (PDF). Detroit Department of Transportation. 2009-02-26. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-08.
  24. ^ "System Map" (PDF). Detroit Department of Transportation. 2021-11-15.
  25. ^ "Pocket Schedules". Detroit Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on 2011-09-16. Retrieved 2011-04-16.
  26. ^ "DDOT Paratransit Service" (PDF). Detroit Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2023-06-27.
  27. ^ "Detroit Downtown Trolley". Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  28. ^ Thompson, Richard. "Portuguese Trams Imported by Gales Creek Enterprises (1974-1993)" (PDF). The Transfer. Vol. 25, no. 1. Oregon Electric Railway Historical Society. pp. 3–4.
  29. ^ King, R.J. (2004-10-24). "Historic trolleys are history". The Detroit News – via Seashore Trolley Museum.
  30. ^ Gallagher, John (2003-10-31). "Near the end of the riderless line: Detroit plans to sell its 9 trolleys". Detroit Free Press – via Seashore Trolley Museum.
  31. ^ Lawrence, Eric D. (2019-04-17). "DDOT, SMART to launch unified payment system to cut hassle for Detroit bus riders". Detroit Free Press. Gannett. Retrieved 2022-10-02.
  32. ^ Lawrence, Eric D. (2019-08-20). "QLINE to join DDOT, SMART unified payment system beginning in October". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved 2022-10-02.
  33. ^ "Buy Passes". Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation. Retrieved 2022-10-02.

External links