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Unified payment system looks to simplify riding the bus in metro Detroit

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Dart will eliminate all transfer fees for DDOT and SMART buses

City of Detroit

For as long as there’s been separate transit systems in metro Detroit, it’s been inconvenient to transfer between them.

Today, DDOT and SMART took a positive step to simplify that process. The two transit providers have partnered to create Dart, a unified payment system that eliminates transfer fees in favor of a single purchase.

Starting May 1, riders will be able to purchase passes of various lengths that are usable on any DDOT or SMART bus throughout its duration. The time increment begins when the pass is first used.

The providers are also working on a mobile app that will be available this summer, and plan to integrate the QLine and People Mover in the near future.

“I applaud SMART and DDOT for this collaborative step as transit is critical to connecting people to opportunity,” said Wayne County Executive Warren C. Evans. “Under the current system, transfers can be confusing and intimidating. Relieving that headache encourages ridership which is important to improving mobility and increasing transit options.”

Evans and Mayor Mike Duggan have long been supporters of an integrated, regional public transit system. Though the executives in Oakland and Macomb counties, L. Brooks Patterson and Mark Hackel, respectively, opposed the mileage to fund a regional transit system, they made statements in favor of Dart.

There will also be reduced fare options for seniors, people with disabilities, Medicare Cardholders, and youth. Pricing and duration for Dart passes are as follows:

  • A four-hour regional Dart pass with unlimited transfers between DDOT and SMART for $2, with a reduced fare price of 50 cents for qualified riders.
  • A 24-hour regional Dart pass with unlimited transfers between DDOT and SMART for $5, with a reduced price of $2.
  • A seven-day regional Dart pass for $22, with a reduced price of $10.
  • A 31-day regional Dart pass, good for unlimited rides on both systems, for $70, with a reduced price of $29. The 31-day pass will also feature a tap to pay option for easier boarding.

Passes can be purchased at transit centers, select retail outlets, online, and by mail.

This another step in the incremental improvement taking place at both SMART and DDOT. Last year, DDOT created 24-hour routes, added Wi-Fi to buses, and partnered with Lyft to give discounts on last mile commutes.