Detroit overhaul plan would boost fares, security

Posted on February 25, 2014

As part of the proposed blueprint for remaking the city filed in bankruptcy court, the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) discussed several inefficiencies as well as a plan to address them over the next few years.

The plan of adjustment Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr filed found that DDOT is plagued by a variety of problems, including DDOT’s inability to maximize the federal grant dollars available to it. In addition, DDOT's bus fares are lower than comparable bus transit systems by approximately 30% on average, and its bus transfers are offered at significantly reduced rates, both of which result in decreased revenues.

DDOT also experiences high absenteeism among its bus drivers, which causes inefficiencies, disrupted transit service, poor customer service and higher costs. For example, in January 2013, DDOT experienced 35% absenteeism for bus operations. Even without long term disability, occupational injury, illness and accidents, absenteeism would have been 21%.

DDOT's maintenance operations are also 58% less efficient, compared with similar bus transit systems, while its vehicle maintenance relies on 31% of its hours on overtime and other time premiums to conduct maintenance, with its maintenance union resistant to initiatives that would improve maintenance service at a lower cost.

In addition, poor service and operating performance has led to dissatisfied riders and low morale among employees, which it is believed to have led to an increase in safety incidents on buses and at transportation facilities.

The report added that since the petition date, consultants have identified certain specific overhauls that could increase the efficiency of DDOT and address its issues, including:

  • Reducing the amount of overtime devoted to vehicle maintenance.
  • Seeking grants to offset preventative maintenance costs and/or capital expenditures for the modernization of facilities.
  • Increasing fares.
  • Merging shared services with the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation and the Detroit People Mover to gain efficiencies and economies of scale.
  • Consolidating certain garages.
  • Installing transit surveillance technology on all buses to improve security.
  • Implementing an improved bus maintenance plan to reduce the number of out-of-service buses and improve on-time route performance.
  • Upgrading DDOT's information technology system to provide daily performance metrics and streamline operations.

To view the entire report, click here.

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