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Detroit replacing 28 buses, recruiting new bus drivers and staff

A SMART bus.

Detroit is getting new buses that use an emissions-reducing technology called clean diesel. The city is also working to recruit new bus drivers and staff to run them.

The new 40-foot buses will have bike racks, USB ports for chargers, and screens for what city officials called “video infotainment.”

Each bus will cost about $515,000.

The city is also planning job fairs to recruit bus drivers, mechanics, and service attendants to clean the buses.

Megan Owens, the director of Detroit-based Transportation Riders United, said the city needs to do everything it can to recruit and keep as many drivers as possible.

"Sometimes if they don’t have enough drivers, a scheduled bus route just doesn’t go out. And that happens every day. There are buses that people are waiting on that just don’t go out, and that’s really a crisis," she said.

Transit advocates said making the city's bus routes more reliable could increase ridership.

"The issue of people having to wait too long continues to be an issue, and until the city is able to hire enough drivers, there will be continue to be problems of riders stuck waiting," Owens said.

The city's transportation department said it's added 32 new buses to replace older models this year. Officials said they’ll be adding at least 20 more by early next year.

Aside from the four electric buses the city added this year, the nearly 300 buses in service in Detroit all use “clean diesel” which is a fuel blend of 20% biodiesel and standard diesel, the city said.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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