Detroit’s bus service is a hot mess right now. From not enough drivers, to late performance, to contract negotiations that seem to be in the he said / she said stage, it’s just not working.

Only 61% of Detroit’s buses are going out on time, and a hundred trips a day are being completely missed.

Recently, the head of Detroit’s transportation department resigned to move back to Miami, and an interim director appointed.

Plus, there’s expansion plans on the horizon that sound good — but it’s not clear how they’re going to get paid for or where the drivers will come from..

There’s a lot to unpack, and there’s so many Detroiters that rely on this transit system. It matters, as in the Motor City, a place designed primarily for cars, a large percentage of residents don’t have access to a vehicle, or only partial access.

I wanted to talk to someone who’s been working on this story for awhile. Aaron Mondry from Outlier Media joined me on the show. And driver pay is at the crux of that.

“Both DDOT and SMART says they’re negotiating with the union on a new contract. The current contract. The current contact (with drivers) expires in 2025. That’s too far in the future to maintain the status quo. And the head of the bus driver’s union, Schetrone Collier, told us that no, (the agencies) are not negotiating in earnest. Basically, the union wants the agencies to just consider pay increases. Instead, he said, the agencies are requiring concessions on the union’s behalf in order to get those pay increases … He said, they’re not negotiating in good faith. There’s a transit crisis in th city, we can’t attract more drivers unless we increase pay, the city just need to do that.” - Aaron Mondry, Outlier Media

His report, “Detroit is ‘reimagining’ the future of transportation without fixing current problems” is worth talking about. And our conversation you’ll find below.

🎙 On the show

» Detroit City FC will get their first ever Sporting Director, and it’s a familiar face. Coach Trevor James is moving from the sidelines to the executive ranks. Me and Fletcher Sharpe discuss. We also have some Lions thoughts as the preseason has wound up.

» It’s already Detroit mayoral election season, apparently. Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield has filed paperwork and started raising money for the city’s top office. [Freep]

But to me, there’s a bigger question. Will people care? Do you care about local elections? The voter turnout has been pretty low in the city in recent elections. We discussed on an episode o the podcast this week.

» Both 11 and 12 Mile roads are now open going under I-75, as well as southbound ramps. Show producer Shianne stopped by to talk about why the angels sung that she’s got a couple roads that are important to her back — and of course, some other topics around town.

⚡️ What to know

» The Land Value Tax (LVT) plan in Detroit continues to move forward as legislation will be introduced next week.

Officials say that it would reduce most resident tax bills by about 17%. Critics aren’t so sure.

The proposed timeline is:

  • Oct. '23: Legislative approval for Detroit
  • Nov. '23: City Council authorizes Ballot Question
  • Feb. '24: Detroiters vote on Land Value Tax

There would be exemptions for urban farms, community gardens, and community spaces. Also, residents who have up to four sidelots. NEZ (Neighborhood Enterprise Zone) holders would get choice on which way they want to go, with LVT going into place after expiration of NEZ.

Introducing the legislation will be State Rep. Stephanie A. Young. If you want an explanation on the LVT, we did an episode w/ the city’s CFO up at the Mackinac Policy Conference:

» The old Kmart headquarters in Troy is coming down this September. Deconstruction will take 9-12 months. [Urbanize Detroit]

Being next to the popular Somerset Collection, I’ve always been puzzled why this hasn’t happened sooner. Maybe somebody from that corner of town can fill me in?

» Metro Detroit’s animal shelters are over capacity and that means increased euthanasia rates. [Axios Detroit]

I’ve now rescued two dogs and a cat and lemme tell you, they’ve been the best. If you’ve got room in your life for one, it’s something to think about. They’ve really filled giant holes in my life I didn’t know I had.

» The old Reynolds Metals regional sales office in Southfield is up for auction. It spent time as a fitness gym, as well. Located across the Lodge from the old Northland Mall spot (with as many as a dozen apartment buildings planned and two under construction), the starting bid is just over $65k. [Auction]

There’s some interesting history on this one, including the unique metal facade. Worth a read if you have some time. [DoCoMoMo]

🍺 News bites

» Detroit native Jamila Robinson is the new editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit. [Eater Detroit]

» Longtime downtown Ferndale mainstay MBrew is to be resurrected, kinda. In a social media post, Bobcat Bonnies owner Matt Buskard announced he bought the place. There’s work to get it back up to today’s code, but is taking suggestions and plans to keep things like having video games like they did in the back. "It’ll be a lot like M-Brew. Not exactly, but close with little major work done,” said the owner. So stay tuned. No timeline yet, Ferndalians.

» City Coffeehouse has expanded to a second location. The new one is in Dearborn Heights, on Ford Road just east of John Daly. The first has been in downtown Allen Park for years. [Instagram]

» Pizza Cat’s Oak Park location has an opening date - Tomorrow, Friday September 1. This is their fourth location in Metro Detroit.

» The Eastern Market location of Supino Pizzeria suffered fire damage earlier this year. They hope to reopen by the end of the year. [Deadline Detroit]

They’re still very open (and I’ve purchased my share of pizza) at their Woodward location, just south of Grand Boulevard.

» On the show tomorrow: Friday co-host Devon O’Reilly went to the new La Suprême in the Book Tower and will share his first impressions.

» I want to get our podcast and newsletter team some decent t-shirts. We’re a small operation and I think it’d be neat to have that pride for the team. So a big ask, if you’re in the position to do it. A low-run of 10 soft shirts is about $350, locally. In that cost is a shirt for you, too, generous soul. I wouldn’t make any money off this — and we really don’t have some large corporate or foundation backer — so am turning to you. If this low run turns out well, maybe we’ll open up the spigot for members and supporters.

» We’re also working on doing an episode of the podcast per month only for our Patreon members, starting in September. If you’ve got ideas on a kind of episode you’d like to see that’s exclusive, email me - dailydetroit - at - gmail - dot - com. When we can figure out a studio, we’ll be able to ramp that up even more.

Thanks for reading! Remember this Monday at noon you can throw water balloons at our own Fletcher Sharpe as he’s competing in the Hamtramck Yacht Club Canoe Races.

Until next time, take care of each other and I’ll see you around Detroit.


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