Wednesday, December 14, 2011

One hour, 37 minutes.

It's hard to even know where to start this blog because of the pure number of bus/bike experiences that happened today. Melissa and I had a breakfast meeting with someone that wanted to hear more about our blog, so we decided to bus/bike there. It was chilly and rainy today, but nothing stops Two Women and our Four Wheels!

I also wanted to use this morning as a chance to test out the new SMART bus schedule. I was early enough to hit the 460 at the Royal Oak Transit Center all the way downtown. The bus was full but only about 2 minutes late. And not to worry - I totally got hit on at the bus stop before even dismounting my bike. A fellow bus rider asked if I had a boyfriend, told me he bet we'd make some beautiful babies, checked in on my holiday shopping status, and bid me adieu. A-mah-zing.

After our meeting, I set out in the new Detroit bus-normal. Here's a timeline:

10:38am - arrive at bus stop right on time - the DDOT Woodward 53 is supposed to arrive at 10:40am

11:00am - bus arrives after standing in the rain and missing being splashed at the bus stop by car drivers/puddles (thanks to my fellow SIX bus stop pals yelling 'watch out, baby!')
The 53 has an empty bike rack (YAY) but is packed with people. See Twitter for photo evidence (@2women4wheels). I end up getting one of the last seats- after paying my $1.75 - in a total standing-room-only bus. The man in front of me is wearing homemade actual paper clip pierced earrings. The ultimate in green/re-used/DIY fashion!

Oh, and someone says 'you take care of that gorgeous figure' to me, kind of loudly in front of the entire bus. Don't you worry...!?

11:38am - arrive at the State Fairgrounds.

11:42am - pick up the SMART 450 - after I see the bus driver flag down a Woodward 53 to transfer people. I give the bus drivers a lot of credit for trying to navigate these changes - and helping people along the way. I have to pay another $.50 for this transfer - which increases my bus commuting costs $.25 per ride between both systems. Our SMART 450 driver ends up waiting about 5 minutes for others to board from another Woodward 53.

11:50am - someone offers an uneaten ham sandwich to the entire bus. YES.

12noon - get off the bus at 11 & Woodward.

12:15pm - arrive at home. Harried. Really frustrated with this "new" system. Yet, grateful that I'm home safe, and grateful that I don't have to rely on this system on a regular basis. Because you know what? The majority of the people on this bus do. This adds about 45 minutes to my bus/bike commute. That's kind of insane, right? Without traffic, this commute is about 25 minutes via car.

How is this acceptable for a major metropolitan region? It's not.
We need to change this "new" system - and be vocal about our experiences.

We've said it before, but we'll say it again:
Send us your pictures!
Send us your stories!

Feel free to send photos to:
tag us on Twitter at:
or post to Facebook tagging:
2 Women 4 Wheels

We would love to have the opportunity to be the voice for the bus/bike commuting community - to help highlight the need for increased bus service. So help us out. :)

Mixed Message Bike Parking at Wayne State University?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What the BLEEP is going on?

First, SMART buses officially cut some of their bus lines and limit bus routes in Detroit to "peak hours." This decision not only upsets our commutes to work but also threatens our enjoyment of happy hours in Detroit.

Second, news sources report that after four years of planning, the light rail system from downtown Detroit to 8 Mile has been scrapped!

And now we are hearing that U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing are advocating for rapid transit buses. Really? And how long will that take to be implemented?

This leads us to the grand question, "WHAT THE BLEEP IS GOING ON?"

In all seriousness, *WHEN* will we have a reliable public transportation system that gets us from point A to point B in Detroit and across the region? And how many people in the interim will lose their jobs because they can't get to work on time? Furthermore, how many people will just give up on public transportation altogether because of all of these cuts? Unfortunately, our leaders are not providing answers to these questions.

Bottom line - we need a public transportation system that works and until that is a reality, we need to make sure that our leaders see what we endure with the current system.

So... participate in our picture campaign! It's simple.

Take pictures of the following:

1. Crowded buses
2. Crowded bus stops
3. Full buses driving away, leaving you to await the next one

Along with your pictures, please also post the date/time and route (whether SMART or DDOT).

Send photos to:
tag us on Twitter at: @2women4wheels
or post to Facebook tagging: 2 Women 4 Wheels

Monday, December 12, 2011

Outraged about the SMART Bus cuts?? It's time to get serious.

The back story (if you haven't already heard):

The cuts (if you haven't already seen this):

The commentary (ours, feel free to add your own):
As many of you know, Two Women Four Wheels has been rolling for about a year and half now. That's a lot of bus rides, and a lot of those bus rides happen on 'non-peak' times in Detroit on SMART buses (peak times = 6am - 9am and 3pm - 6pm M-F - is it us, or are these some serious early-bird 'peak times'? We'd like to see the empirical evidence on this one - but we digress). This SERIOUSLY interferes with happy hour times! Cliff Bells' Happy Hour goes until 7pm, helllllooo.

And what is the main theme that we blog/tweet about (well, besides getting hit on)? How full the buses are. How we get stuck places because the bike racks on the buses are FULL.

This is a MAJOR step back as it relates to transit in metro Detroit. Yeah, we said it. METRO Detroit. Not Detroit vs. the suburbs vs. the out-burbs or whatever. We are a region. A vibrant region full of great people that need (or prefer) to get around via public transit. And one that frankly is going fast nowhere without a solid way for people to get around.

The Plan (we know you've been waiting):
So, what speaks more than 1,000 words (or Two Women Four Wheels fabulous blog/Twitter posts)?
That's right.
We are kicking off our picture campaign and ask followers of our blogs (and friends of followers and of course, their friends) to post the following:

1. Pictures of crowded buses
2. Pictures of crowded bus stops
3. Pictures of full buses driving away, leaving you to await the next one

Along with your pictures, please also post the date/time and route (whether SMART or DDOT).
And also feel free to document any issues you may have.

SMART and DDOT need to hear from US. The local transit riding community. And how these cuts aren't going to cut it with us.

Feel free to send photos to:
tag us on Twitter at:
or post to Facebook tagging:
2 Women 4 Wheels

We can't wait to see your photos and hear your stories - and we'll be sharing our own. We will be amassing this information for potential future actions (insert evil laugh muhahahaha). :)