11/15/2011 11:29 am ET

Transportation Riders United Report Card Fails DDOT Buses

DETROIT -- The group Transportation Riders United issued a scathing report on the performance of city buses Tuesday. The "report card" grades the Detroit Department of Transportation's bus services, and finds the system failing.

The report compared published schedules to actual arrival times of buses along eight major routes during the week of Oct. 17-21. The report claims volunteers monitored nearly 4,000 scheduled bus runs. TRU found a wide variation in on-time performance of city buses: Some routes' buses were on time as high as 66 percent of the time, and others were on time as low as 10 percent.

Overall, "the likelihood of a DDOT rider experiencing an on-time bus is just 50 percent -- not better than flipping a coin," according to the report.

TRU also found that, depending on the route, between 20 and 50 percent of scheduled buses never arrived.

The report comes just one day after the city and the bus mechanics union reached an agreement that both parties say will put more buses back on the streets, improving service and reducing wait times. Mayor Dave Bing had previously accused the mechanics of a work slowdown and suggested that privatizing the DDOT workforce was a possible measure. The new agreement will eliminate furlough days for city bus mechanics, but also outsource some of their work.

"[We'll be] bringing in an outsourced maintenance management firm to help us really understand and get our hands around the best maintenance practice," Chief Operating Officer Chris Brown told WWJ.

Tensions have been high among city officials, bus drivers and mechanics and bus riders in recent weeks. On Nov. 3, a bus driver was attacked, leading the city's bus drivers to stage a walk-out on Nov. 4. Bing pledged heightened security for drivers and riders and an increased police presence at the Rosa Parks Transit center.

But the TRU report's authors are not impressed with the mayor's efforts to resolve the bus crisis.

"Despite promises by Mayor Bing to resolve the current bus crisis within 30 days, timeliness remains totally unacceptable," the report states. "No action plan is clearly in place and no specific approaches have been made public. Not only has the City of Detroit failed to resolve the current crisis stemming from a lack of available buses in good working condition, it has been unable to resolve the many long-standing management problems."

TRU director Megan Owens said the report would be presented to the city Tuesday morning.

Occupy Detroit members and faith leaders were also scheduled to stage a protest at the mayor's office Tuesday morning against cuts to DDOT and SMART bus services. Occupy Detroit spokesman Lee Gaddis said the protesters would "demand a meeting around the cuts to transportation which disenfranchise poor people and people who do not have cars."

Kate Abbey-Lambertz contributed to this report.