The Woodward 53 Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) will no longer run along the city’s busiest corridor as of Saturday, September 1, but you can catch the Woodward 4 bus. The number change is a part of DDOT’s “Connect Ten Network” initiative, where services will be upgraded to ten of the most heavily used (60 percent) city bus routes. These routes cover the entire city via major, easy‐to‐follow corridors, and are intended to create a solid core for the entire system.
The final services changes were announced at a community meeting at the Rosa Parks Transit Center in downtown Detroit. The new changes to the Connect Ten Network routes include 24-hour service for all ten routes, bringing the total number of DDOT 24-hour service routes to 12, and weekday frequency of 30 minutes or better.
“The benefits of the new Connect Ten Network is simplification,” said Mikki Taylor-Hendrix, Community Liaison for DDOT. “We had 12 meetings prior to finalizing these service changes, finalized a proposal and brought it back to the public in a more formal setting, and went back internally to finalize these service changes. The new system fits the need of ridership today.”
A key element of the Connect Ten Network is easy route numbers. Starting September 1, riders will recognize Connect Ten Network routes with numbers 1 to 10. These routes have new numbers as a step toward simplification. The routes effected are:
Vernor 49 to Vernor 1
Michigan 37 to Michigan 2
Grand River 21 to Grand River 3
Woodward 53 to Woodward 4
Van Dyke 48 to Van Dyke 5
Gratiot 34 to Gratiot 6
7 Mile 45 to 7 Mile 7
Crosstown 14 to Warren 8
Jefferson 25 to Jefferson 9
Greenfield 22 to Greenfield 10
Cadillac/Harper 7 to Cadillac/Harper 67
Chalmers 9 to Chalmers 68
Chene 10 to Chene 52
Other changes to DDOT services include the renaming of the Crosstown 14 bus to Warren 8, frequency improvements to the Conner 13 route, minor routing changes to the new Grand River 3 bus, service and routing changes to the new Gratiot 6 route, route changes to the Russell 40 bus, and service reductions on a number of major routes.
“The numbers change are all for simplification,” said Taylor-Hendrix. “If you can count to ten, you know what routes are 24/7. They’re on corridors that are straight-forward, for the most part, and they run frequently. We will have information at every bus stop and we have already started putting out zip ties that tell you all the new route names and numbers, and we have 25,000 fliers that we are trying to get into as many hands as possible. We’ve been out already notifying riders and we will be out until about September 4 telling people about this new information.”
But not everyone is a fan of the new final service changes. Renard Monczunski, who is a Transit Justice Organizer with the Detroit People’s Platform, does community organizing for the group, specifically around transit justice, and was one of the opposers of the new bus changes in Detroit.
“We did not ask for the Connect Ten Network or the changing of the route numbers,” said Monczunski, who attended many of the meetings. “This was not initiated by the community and was something put in place internally by DDOT. They’re take on changing the numbers is that it will increase ridership and we disagree with that. Improving service, cleanliness, on-time service, and access will improve ridership.”
DDOT began introducing a route numbering system to identify its bus routes in 1975. Detroiter Carla McCullough has been riding the bus for the last few months until she is able to afford a new car and takes the Woodward route to her job near the Eight Mile and Woodward shopping center. She has forever known the route as the Woodward 53 and sees the changes as unnecessary.
“I think riders will be confused by these changes,” she said. “Imagine waiting for the Woodward 53 bus and you see the Woodward 4 bus coming. Some people may think it’s a mistake or a different Woodward route. Their reasoning for the changes doesn’t make sense and shows that the people of Detroit didn’t matter in the final decision-making.”
A positive for the new Woodward 4 route is that it will finally run straight north and south along the corridor, instead of its current route. After a five-year hiatus, due to the construction of the QLine, the Woodward route will no longer stop at the Rosa Parks Transit Center as of September 1. There was an entire movement and petition to restore the service to Woodward directly into downtown by city riders and their wish has been granted.
“Detroiters deserve a transportation system and routes that work for them and not just the tax-guzzling corporations remaking downtown and Midtown in their own image,” said Frank Caldwell, who rides the Woodward bus to get to and from his home in Highland Park. “The Woodward bus needs to stay on Woodward and I am glad we had at least one victory today.”
More information can be found at RideDetroitTransit.com.