Friday, July 12, 2013

Why Fareboxes Aren't Working

Tuesday I was headed out the door in Northend headed to Michigan and Trumbull for a meeting. I walked over to the bus stop at Woodward and Grand Blvd to wait for a bus. About 5 minutes after standing there I saw two buses bunched headed northbound up Woodward. Another 10 minutes later another headed northbound. I was running late for the meeting so I was grumbling a bit about the "415 Plan" to provide buses every 15 minutes along four major routes: Woodward, Dexter, Gratiot, and Grand River.

Late night at Rosa Parks Transit Center...
getting quieter with fewer buses
I checked at the corner to see if a Dexter bus was coming and there was nothing. Its an interesting spot to catch a bus because two of those routes are within a block from each other from Grand Blvd headed nearly all the way downtown. Waiting grew longer, SMART buses kept driving up dropping off passengers and continuing on their way - they can't pickup in the city until after 6pm and only at select locations (which Woodward and Grand is one, but 6pm had not yet arrived).

One of the people waiting saw a Dexter bus pulling up and started running to catch it. Another person took off running as well. I noticed them headed over and started running as well, but I was carrying a loaded backpack and couldn't make time and ensure my equipment in the bag wasn't damaged. The two of them got on the bus and I was at the corner across the street as the bus resumed its path, leaving me behind.

I headed over to Woodward for more waiting and quickly grew tired of it, started walking down Woodward. Another northbound Woodward bus went by. I got down to the stop across from Mr Mike's in Techtown and two buses were pulling up. Likely the ones I'd seen headed northbound at least 30 minutes earlier. I hopped on and found the farebox was working. I remarked "there must be five buses running on Woodward now". The driver couldn't or wouldn't acknowledge that. I also remarked "the fareboxes are not working on many of the buses so ridership isn't being counted - this is an effort to show minimal ridership so service can be cut again or changed." I said that loud enough for half the bus to hear it. A few people heard it and I saw the expression on their faces change. They connected their "good fortune" with a future catastrophic result - the loss of ridership count foretells loss of service.

Why Break the Fareboxes?

When DDOT measures ridership broken fareboxes don't gauge, they have one other sensing mechanism but I doubt that is enabled either. Its been said 15-20% of revenue to run the buses comes from fareboxes. So if 50% of fareboxes are broken it affects the system greatly. I'm not exaggerating about the number not working - that's been what I've encountered in the past two months, half the boxes are disabled.

Citizens around the city have to stand up at meeting with our public officials present and demand accountability. We also have to attend the DDOT customer meetings that happen on 3rd Thursdays at DDOT headquarters, 1301 East Warren. The meeting starts at 5pm and runs roughly 2 hours depending on number of people attending and topics to be covered. These customer meetings are the time to demand accountability and request written documented responses. Get these posted online because proof of how the system is operating needs to be demonstrated.

Some of the press prints the known lie saying DDOT is working GREAT - that's usually from the Mayor's perspective, fabricated based on numerical analysis. Have you seen him or his staff on the buses? Demand accountability and challenge him & staff to ride for a few days. Include the Emergency Manager in that invitation because it seems Mayor Bing has simply become an adviser to the EM and abdicated power months ago. Ethics complaints are appropriate for elected officials that fail to serve and protect the public, its in their oath of office and shown in the introduction to the City Charter. [Ethics ordinance and charter provisions]

Keep looking to alternative press that is watching City of Detroit and DDOT.
Link to current article on DDOT Disservice in Voice of Detroit.

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