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An “Air Ride” bus travels down a road near a freeway.
AirRide Service from DTW to Ann Arbor, Brighton, and East Lansing.
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How to get to and from Detroit Metro Airport without a car

Flying to or from DTW? Here’s a guide to get there using public transit.

When most of us need to get to Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW), we instinctively consider driving ourselves, getting a ride, or taking an Uber or Lyft.

But did you know that you can take public transit to the airport? We may not have a rail system connecting DTW to nearby cities, but there are several bus options available. Plus, you’ll save money by not storing your car there at $10 a day or paying $40 or more for a ride-hailing service.

Even if you don’t live along a bus route, you can still use public transit for most of your trip. There are many options to reach DTW such as taking the bus from a Park & Ride lot or hailing an Uber/Lyft to reach a bus stop along an airport route.

Below is a comprehensive guide on the many routes to DTW you can take using public transit.

SMART Bus

SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation) buses serve metro Detroit with peak trips to downtown Detroit. To ride costs $2 per adult, $0.50 per youths (6–18), seniors and persons with disabilities with ID.

With the new Dart unified payment system, the full fare is good for four hours of unlimited rides and transfers on SMART, DDOT, and the QLine. 24-hour, 7-day, and 31-day passes are also available. Fares can be paid with cash on the bus, pre-bought online or using the DART Mobile App.

A black bus with all-caps “FAST” written on the side. Courtesy of SMART

FAST buses are regional express routes operated by SMART that run all day on Gratiot, Woodward, and Michigan avenues, making limited stops between the suburbs and downtown Detroit. They are all black with big white letters: “FAST” on the side. You can easily transfer downtown Detroit to the FAST Michigan bus (Route #261) which will take you to the airport.

Here is the schedule information. And below are routes for getting to the airport from various parts of metro Detroit.

  • Macomb County: Take or transfer to a FAST Gratiot SMART bus from any designated FAST stop along Gratiot Ave between 23 Mile and downtown Detroit. Park & Ride lots are located at the 23 Mile Meijer & Mount Clemens Farmers Market. Transfer to FAST Michigan to DTW at a designated FAST stop along Jefferson Avenue.
  • Northern Macomb County: There is a new airport service for Chesterfield, Richmond, Armada, and Macomb townships, as well as the villages of Armada and New Haven and the cities of Richmond and Memphis. It runs once a day and must be set up in advance. Call 1–844–666–5652.
  • Oakland County: Take or transfer to the FAST Woodward SMART bus from any designated FAST stop along Woodward between Pontiac or Troy Park & Ride to downtown Detroit. Transfer to FAST Michigan to DTW at the Grand Circus Park (Woodward & Clifford) or at Spirit Plaza. Walk to Jefferson Ave to a FAST stop for the transfer.
  • Wayne County: Take or transfer to the FAST Michigan SMART bus from downtown (Jefferson Ave or Woodward & Clifford) or any designated FAST bus stop along the way. There is a Park & Ride at Wyoming. (Routes 280 & 125 are also options from Garden City and Downriver respectively).

Michigan Flyer — AirRide

AirRide is a service from the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority and provided by Michigan Flyer. Rates vary by trip.

  • Washtenaw County: Take the AirRide from the Blake Transit Center downtown Ann Arbor to DTW. It makes 14 weekday trips daily and base cost is $12 one way.
  • Livingston County: Take the AirRide from the Meijer in Brighton to DTW. Parking must be prepaid ($2.50/day, 30 day max). It makes 14 weekday trips daily and base cost is $22 one way.
  • Ingham County: Take the AirRide from the East Lansing Marriott Hotel to DTW. Parking must be prepaid ($2.50/day, 30 day max). It makes 14 weekday trips and base cost is $32 one way.

DDOT Bus

DDOT (Detroit Department of Transportation) costs $2 per adult and $0.50 per youths (6–18), seniors and persons with disabilities with ID. The full fare is good for four hours of unlimited rides and transfers on SMART, DDOT, and the QLine. Fares can be paid with cash on the bus, at transit centers, administration offices, select retailers or using the DART Mobile App.

DDOT buses do not reach DTW, but many routes connect with the FAST Michigan route which runs directly to the airport. See their system map and downtown map for more details.

TheRide

TheRide (Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority) buses costs $1.50 per adult and $0.75 per youths (6–18), seniors and persons with disabilities. Transfers are free within 90 minutes.

TheRide buses do not reach DTW but many routes connect to the Blake Transit Center downtown Ann Arbor. Riders can then transfer to the AirRide bus. See their system map and downtown map for more details.

McNamara Terminal
Via DTW
North Terminal
Via DTW

Do the Buses Stop At Both Terminals?

Yes, SMART and Michigan Flyer-AirRide buses stop at both the McNamara Terminal (Check-in and departures Air France Door) and at the North Terminal (Ground Transportation Center). This is also where you will also depart from by bus. See maps above.

Photo by John Good

Taking transit from DTW Airport

Half the battle of taking a bus from DTW is knowing where the buses depart from once you’ve picked up your baggage.

At the McNamara Terminal, the pickup/drop off location is at the Air France drop off. You’ll have to take the escalators or elevator from baggage claim to the top floor to the Air France drop off and look for the sign below that says in tiny letters “municipal transit” or the familiar red SMART Bus sign. There is a ground transportation area at the North Terminal but once again, passengers have to travel back up from the baggage area to reach it.

For more information visit www.transitguidedetroit.com.

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