Saturday, January 18, 2014

Quite a Week in Detroit Transit News!

This was quite the week for public transportation news in Detroit - we could barely keep up. If you missed some of the major announcements, don’t worry. 2 Women 4 Wheels will get you back on the transit track!

DDOT Has New Director

As you may recall last week, newly-elected Detroit Mayor Duggan fired the DDOT (Detroit Department of Transportation) director and hired Dan Dirks. Fun fact - Dirks was one of our first fans - long before this recent announcement. A little bit about Dan - he used to be the general manager of the SMART bus system from 1998 to 2007. He also actually got on the bus to learn about some of the problems with DDOT - thank you! He told reporters on Thursday that DDOT buses will run on time within a month. While that’s a pretty bold statement, we welcome it and will check back in on that statement in mid to late-February.

Another announcement we read this past week announced that Detroit Mayor Duggan plans to *increase* DDOT services. Yes, you read that correctly - INCREASE!!! We’re so used to *decreases* in services from both SMART and DDOT that we had to read and reread the article to confirm that. We’re still a bit amazed!

And the last surprise we learned this week from DDOT is that they have a place on their website, where you can sign up for announcements by email. Whoa?! Does this mean that they’re actually going to share information with the public?! Well, we don’t really know that but what the hell - we definitely signed up and you should, too!

Hertel Steps Down as CEO of the RTA

John Hertel will leave the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) and will continue as the general manager of SMART. Is this good or bad? We welcome your comments. 1) We didn’t really understand how he could do both jobs at once. 2) We’re concerned that this compromises the advancement of the RTA. Won’t they have to spend more time finding another CEO? Will that delay the process of getting a millage passed to fund the RTA? If so, will the legislature have to appropriate additional funds (and will they actually do it)? 3) Has Hertel ever used public transportation? For instance, does he use it during his daily commute to the SMART office in Detroit? This is a question we’ve had for a few years now and if someone could answer it, we would greatly appreciate it. 4) What’s going on with the RTA? We’ve heard they’re discussing a bus rapid transit system and that’s great but how will they work to improve communication with existing transit providers (aka DDOT and SMART).

Carmona Leaves M-1

Heather Carmona, who was the chief administrative officer, for M-1 left the transit project Friday. We didn’t see that coming. In other M-1 news, a public hearing is scheduled on Wednesday, January 22 from 5 to 7pm with a presentation at 6pm at the Detroit Public Library Main Branch. Find more information here.

Ummm… that’s a lot of transit news for Detroit. What did we miss?  More importantly, what new should we expect next week?

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