Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bemused by Bus Service

Mass transit has been a curious thing in Detroit as of late.

First, Mayor Dave Bing and the Detroit Department of Transportation announced that they were going to upgrade 1,000 signs for bus stops along 5 major routes. The new signs would be 50% larger than the old ones. They would also be color coded:
  • Green for routes traveling into and out of downtown;
  • Blue for all routes that travel east and west; and
  • Purple for all routes that travel north and south.
This, I thought, was a nice upgrade to D-DOT's service.

Shortly after that, it was reported that Mayor Bing was considering cuts to bus service - upgraded signage and all - in order to remedy the budget problems that just won't go away. This proposal has met from considerable opposition from many parts of Detroit's populace.

My favorite form of protest has come from a rapper who calls himself Young Fuol. He recorded a protest rap entitled "F*** Dave Bing" and posted it on YouTube.

Kudos, by the way, to the City Hall Insider for finding this one.

In response to this public outcry, Mayor Bing's staff reportedly told the City Council today that they are working "around the clock" to find a way to avoid cutting bus service. I'll save commentary on whether or not they'll be able to do it for others.

Instead, I'll just say this: several weeks ago, I predicted that the general election in November is going to be a lot closer for Mayor Bing than anyone else expects. I even went out on a limb to say that it will almost certainly be within a 10% margin of victory and that there is a chance that challenger Tom Barrow might pull off the upset of the century if he plays his cards right.

The first time I mentioned this, shortly after Mayor Bing won the primary with more than 70% of the vote, people literally laughed at me. Today, no one laughs when I repeat my prediction.

When any conversation about the City's budget takes place, there are two facts that remain unspoken but undeniable.
  1. Detroit residents already pay dramatically more in taxes than their counterparts in neighboring communities;
  2. In spite of this, Detroit residents receive dramatically less in city services than their counterparts in neighboring communities.
These two facts combine to form a distinct distrust of city government and a general sense that residents aren't getting their moneys worth. When Mayor Bing proposes to cut city services even further, without any reduction in the taxes that we pay, the result is simply not good his chances to remain in office.