Starting Friday evening, the brightly-colored school bus dubbed "Bettis" will be rolling around on a set schedule as it picks up and drops off barhoppers in Detroit.
Bettis is the first in the fleet of the Detroit Bus Company, a private venture dreamed up by Ferndale-based entrepreneur Andy Didorosi to boost the city's struggling transportation system.
"There's a need to be fulfilled," Didorosi told The Huffington Post in May. "I hope we get made redundant one day."
Earlier this year, Detroit's Department of Transportation made extensive service cuts that ended nighttime service. But according to the Detroit News, DDOT chief executive Ron Freeland is looking forward to the competition from Didorosi, which he said could improve the city buses' overall performance.
The Detroit Bus Co. also does not run overnight, but it will keep later hours, ending service on its 13-stop downtown loop just after the bars close at 2:30 a.m. The route starts in Corktown and circles through downtown, Greektown, Eastern Market, Midtown, New Center, Woodbridge and Mexicantown.
On its trial run last month, the service was held back by long wait times and Cinco de Mayo traffic, but Didorosi said taking a break before the official launch would give the company a chance to work out kinks. They've changed the route slightly, and say the bus wait time will be 35 minutes at each stop. On the May 5 trial run, wait times fluctuated but ran closer to an hour-and-a-half. One of the perks to waiting for a ride, however, is the Detroit Bus Co. website's live tracking feature, which shows when the bus is running and lets riders with smart phones or internet access know when it's time to hop on.
Though Didorosi plans to add a route that will go up Woodward Avenue to Hamtramck, Ferndale and Royal Oak, as well as a potential airport shuttle, for now its location and short hours ( 6 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Friday, 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Saturday, 1 to 10 p.m. Sunday, and two hours before, after and through home Tigers games) limit its practicality to the weekend entertainment crowd.
It's $5 for an unlimited day of riding. Comparatively, one ride on a city DDOT bus is $1.50. Didorosi also plans to launch a one-for-one service that would offer a free ride to someone who needs transportation to work for every regular rider the Detroit Bus Co. gets.