Has Detroit been intentionally demobilized?There have been numerous attempts made at Detroit City Council meetings in 2012 asking for JARC (Job Access Reverse Commute) to be implemented and delays investigated. But it seems true to "Motor City vision" that mass transit would not be taken seriously. Detroit's legacy is with personal transit in automobiles. The Detroit Free Press exposed a long standing problem, one which has sapped Detroit residents of their ability to get to and from work opportunities up to 30 miles from their residence. This was exposed in February 2015 when stories regarding James Robertson's 21 walking mile commute to work was exposed.
The Detroit Department of Transportation received a total of $17.4 million in federal and state transportation funds in 2004-12 to start the program, called Job Access and Reverse Commute, that gives cheap door-to-door rides to work for Detroiters who lack cars. The cost per ride is $1.50, the same as fixed fare bus service on DDOT. This makes it cheaper than $2.00 on SMART and the cost for transfer tickets of $0.25 and $0.50 on these fixed service bus routes. They are also scheduled at the time you need service, that means no standing in the cold or walking blocks through drifts of blowing snow. There are low income requirements to be part of JARC program, however these don't take into account for the high rates for automobile insurance in the city of Detroit, driven by redlining over decades.
Detroit has been receiving federal and state grant dollars for over a decade on a poorly implemented system that should have HUGE demand.
"In essence the money was sitting there and the city never started the program," said DDOT Director Dan Dirks, who began in early 2014.Detroit ranked 40th of 70 cities in the Innovative Transportation study in 2014 by Pirgim. 6 services out of 11 surveyed determined the ranking.
- We have: ride sourcing through Uber, Lyft; round trip car sharing with ZipCar; peer to peer car sharing with RelayRides; open data through Google, Hopstop, gtfs; real time information through Moovit, a transit app; and multi-modal app RideScout.
- Missing were: one way carsharing; ride sharing; taxi hailing; bike sharing; virtual ticket info.
The survey suggests governments can offer services that we've seen riders bring up during DDOT community meetings:
- Expanding access to cellular networks, wifi, and electric outlets.
- Creating access to technology-enabled services in transportation “hubs” near transit stations helping riders make “first mile/last mile” connections.
- Currently Rosa Parks Transit Center has wifi, but it is closed to public access, it has also opened a single location for cell phone recharging. Given the structure was recently built limiting access to these services is particularly odd as it appears to be intentionally implemented to disable riders. Other hub locations have no building and some no shelter for public access. There has also been a reduction in the number of shelters along bus routes, some through planned removal others subjected to vandalism. Federal grant programs exist specifically for creating bus shelters and equipping them.
- Enabling ticketing through smartphone apps. This was available in 6 of 70 communities surveyed.
- Adjusting zoning and planning to accommodate changing modes of transportation - such as easily accessible (reduced fare) space for ride/bike sharing near transit hubs.