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Motor City Meltdown
Motorless in the Motor City

The city of Detroit was built on automobiles, but today more than one quarter of households in the city don’t own a car.

For cities, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. New York, Boston, DC, and Chicago all have a greater percentage of carless households. But these cities also have comprehensive, world-class public transportation system. Detroit, meanwhile, doesn’t even have a decent bus system. The Wall Street Journal spotlights the sorry state of the city’s bus system, where commuters face travel times frequently in excess of 90 minutes:

Bus lines, which have a daily ridership of 100,000, have been cut or curtailed in recent years. Aging, poorly maintained buses regularly conk out, leaving remaining ones so overcrowded they often blast through stops without taking on new passengers. Many days, nearly one-third of all buses don’t even make it out of their depots because of mechanical or staffing problems, according to transit advocates, union and city officials. The average age of a Detroit bus is 9½ years, the back end of a 12-year life span.

There may be some improvements in the works. The new bankruptcy deal currently under discussion would see more money freed up to pay for improved city services. But there’s no guarantee that creditors or the courts will agree to a plan that sees their payments cut so the city can spend more on public transportation. And in a city where police and ambulances frequently take hours to show up, there are other services that may need the money even more.

Detroit’s bankruptcy may be the first step toward a saner politics, but there’s a long way to go before it becomes anything like a functioning city again.

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  • Pete

    Detroit — just like a Third World country

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Why would anyone live there? In fact why live in a dying blue model city or state? Taxes are outrageous, property values fall, businesses leave or go bankrupt, jobs have no future, city services are the worst, crime is everywhere, there is no reason to stay. Move to a red city or state, which is growing, and thriving, and watch your property appreciate, businesses moving in and expanding, workers getting raises and promotions, get a police, fire, or medical response if you have to dial 911, see children learning in school instead of dodging bullets and drug dealers.

    • Boritz

      If they take your advice and move they will see all of the things you describe and think how wonderful it would be if only the politics were the same as the place they left behind. They will campaign vigorously and cast votes to try to make it so.

  • Boritz


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