We’ve highlighted the most common modes of transportation in Michigan.
Be sure to visit our interactive map for more information.
Fixed Route (FX)
Fixed vehicles travel on specific routes and schedules that don’t change.
- Routes – roads don’t change.
- Schedules – times and dates don’t change.
- “Stops” – locations where riders are picked up and dropped off.
A fixed route in Detroit is called, “32 McNicols”. The 32 McNicols schedule runs every 60 minutes on the weekend. One of the “stops” on 32 McNicols is “Mack & University”.
[FX] vehicles will have an access ramp, or lift, to assist with boarding.
If you have a disability that prevents you from using [FX], Paratransit [P] is an option. You can read more about paratransit and other types of accessible transportation below.
[FX] is mostly available in heavily populated areas. Rural areas, where fewer people live and work, offer other options. In most cases, you must call ahead to arrange your trip.
Paratransit is a public, shared ride service that is provided by a transit agency who offers a Fixed Route [FX] system. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires a paratransit option if riders are unable to use the [FX] system.
Transit locations may ask you to complete an application to verify why you can’t use the [FX] system. This ensures space on paratransit buses or other vehicles is reserved for individuals who need it.
- You must live within ¾ miles from a fixed bus stop to use paratransit services.
- The ADA allows a caregiver or companion, accompanying a rider with a disability, to ride for free.
Reasons You May Choose Paratransit
- Cannot navigate the [FX] system without assistance
- Require an accessible vehicle when one is not available
- Inability to reach the transit stop due to a disability
Paratransit Means “Parallel Transit.”
- Provides transportation services that are “parallel”, or similar to the [FX] option for that area.
- Operates at the same times, and in the same areas as [FX].
- For instance, paratransit will not travel to a destination outside the area a [FX] bus does.
- You cannot use paratransit on days/times of the week that differ from the existing [FX] schedule.
Most rural areas in Michigan do not have [FX], so there is no complementary paratransit service. Many of these areas provide Demand Response [DR] or Flexible [FL] routes. Read on to learn more about [DR] and [FL].
Because [P] is required wherever [FX] is provided, it is not labeled on the DRM statewide map as a separate type of transportation. Remember: Paratransit is a complementary service the law requires to be available within ¾ of a mile of all fixed route transportation. If a transportation provider has an [FX] system, but has no information about how to schedule a complementary paratransit ride, call their general dispatch or customer service line. If you are told there is no paratransit, or denied assistance, call DRM at 1-800-288-5923.
Demand Response (DR)
Demand response is when riders request a ride and choose where to be picked up and dropped off.
- Origin: the location where you are picked up.
- Destination: the location where you are dropped off.
The most common way to schedule a [DR] ride is by calling the transportation provider’s dispatcher service and telling them your requested trip date, time, origin address, and destination address. Some providers book online or through an “app”. The DRM interactive map features [DR] information in your area, if applicable.
[DR] systems usually require more notice due to the long distances they will travel. They typically will schedule as many rides in a single area as possible, and run on a first-come, first-serve basis. The amount of notice you must give for [DR] may range from a day (24 hours) to two weeks or more. Meanwhile, many local demand response systems, like city-wide dial-a-ride transit, only require you to schedule your ride an hour or two before your pick-up time.
Types of Demand Response Transportation
Unlike [FX] which uses designated stops, demand response transportation is door-to-door, or curb-to-curb.
- Door-to door: vehicle will come right to your residence.
- Curb-to-curb: vehicle stops at the curb nearest to your residence or destination.
Sometimes a public transportation vehicle is too large for someone to board safely in a driveway. When this is the case, even if it is a door-to-door service, they may need to pick up and drop off at the nearest curb or the closest area where you can board safely.
Most of the time, all demand response vehicles in a fleet are lift or ramp equipped. The ADA requires lift or ramp equipped vehicles are available if you need one.
- The ADA allows a personal care attendant of individuals who have disabilities to ride for free when accompanying them.
- Many [DR] providers prioritize riders with disabilities.
- Many [DR] providers prioritize recurring rides. Individuals ride on the same days and times each week or month. These rides are often called a “subscription” service. Subscription services are helpful when going to a job or regularly scheduled doctor’s appointments.
Flexible [Flex] Route (FL)
Flexible route is when a vehicle will deviate from an established route for pickup/drop off.
The Benton Harbor area has two flexible routes, called the “Blue Route” and the “Red Route”. These vehicles travel on specific routes, but riders can request “flex” stops at grocery stores, etc.
Different FL Names
- Route deviation service
- Deviated route
- Deviated fixed route
- Flex route service
According to the ADA, flexible route transportation is a type of demand response transportation that travels on established routes. Like demand response and fixed route transportation, [FL] can be used by anyone, disability or not. The ADA requires that service for people with disabilities is equivalent to service for the general public.
Many [FL] routes also operate on a “first come, first serve basis” and are often planned around what is called “ridership”.
- Ridership is the number of people using transit in a specific area or time. Imagine a county-wide [FL] system. The transit agency may wait until they get a few ride requests in the northeast part of the county to plan a route to it.
Flexible route transportation providers try to schedule as many rides in one area at a time as possible. Doing this prevents drivers from needing to make multiple trips to the same area.
When using [FL], you may need to plan your trips further ahead.
- Be prepared to ride with others on shared trips.
- Be prepared for the vehicle to make more stops to pick up and drop off other people.
Which type of public transportation is best?
Each mode of public transportation has its own set of benefits and drawbacks. The community you live in might provide a variety of options or very few. Familiarize yourself with what’s available in your area. Contact your public transportation provider about what to expect if you are new to using their services. Take advantage of the DRM Interactive Map and learn the mode of transportation that works best for you.