Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Where Do You Purchase A Bus Pass?

It's difficult to get a bus pass. I've come to this conclusion after almost a year of not having a bus pass and instead using many dollar bills and quarters to pay for my metro Detroit transit travels.  

Let me explain.  It started at the Rosa Parks Transit Center located in a very prominent facility in downtown Detroit.  I had used up my bus pass earlier this year and on my way to the SMART bus stop I decided to stop at the transit center to get a new SMART bus pass.  Unfortunately, they didn't sell SMART bus passes because only DDOT buses use that stop. (I still think that since it's the most prominent location for transit in the city, they should sell SMART bus passes, too.)  Strike one.

Then, after a few weeks of using dollar bills to pay for my bus rides, I took the afternoon off to run errands.  Naturally, my first stop was the Royal Oak Transit Center.  Unfortunately, the attendant was on lunch break, which meant no bus pass for me.  Strike two.  (Let me point out that in other cities, they have a machine that is available at all times of the day for people to purchase transit passes.  AHHH!!!  Does metro Detroit have one of these machines?)

Finally, yesterday, I scored a bus pass with ten minutes to spare.  Where?  At the SMART Transit Center in the Buhl Building in downtown Detroit.  Ten minutes to spare you ask?  Well, they close at 5pm.  It's hard to read the sign in the picture to the right but they are only open Mondays through Fridays from 8:30am to 5pm.  When are people that work during the day supposed to purchase a bus pass?  This leads me to my original conclusion - it's difficult to get a bus pass!

What makes it even more difficult?  In all of Oakland County, there are only 8 locations, where one can purchase a bus pass; 2 in Macomb County and 10 in Wayne County!  Check it out for yourself.  Oh, and it gets better...  there are 23 cities that are serviced by SMART in Oakland County, which makes me think there would be more than 8 locations to get bus passes.  There are 26 cities serviced by SMART in Macomb County and another 26 cities in Wayne County.  With 75 cities being serviced by SMART, one would think that there would be at least 75 locations to get a bus pass.  Nope... just 20 in all of metro Detroit.  Does anyone else see this as a problem?  (SMART - Please consider contacting post offices, public libraries, and grocery stores to sell bus passes.)

What about the internet you ask?  Well...yes, you can order a bus pass from SMART's website but you have to pay $2 to have it mailed to you.  That's the cost of a bus ride!

So it's back to dollar bills and quarters... yes, you can use them but from my year of using dollar bills that had just enough of a curled edge that the meter didn't like, I choose a bus pass (when I can leave work early enough to purchase one).  See happy me with a bus pass to the left.  Thanks, Julie, for taking these great photos!

This is Melissa, your investigative reporter with 2 Women, 4 Wheels spinning off!  Happy riding and bus pass searching!


  1. That is crazy! I hope someone at your transit agency reads this blog!

    1. It worked - they did! Thanks for your comment.

  2. We understand your frustration and we are working on it. Unfortunately, not all organizations are willing to take on the responsibility. Suggestions on locations are welcome!

    1. It would be great to have passes available for purchase at libraries, city halls, post offices, grocery stores, etc. What is essential is that bus passes are sold after business hours, too.