Melody Williams, a legally blind paratransit rider in Detroit, wakes up every morning at 3 a.m. to get ready for her 4:30 a.m. ride to the dialysis center for her appointment. While the paratransit services eventually get Williams to her location, it’s not often without a bump in the road she says. Under the city’s former paratransit services, provided by Transdev, riders might be dropped off at the wrong location, picked up late, or not treated with care.  

Williams wasn’t alone in her criticism of MetroLift, the Detroit Department of Transportation’s paratransit service, either. The paratransit services faced enough scrutiny that in November 2022 Detroit City Council members voted against a contract extension for Transdev, and in December Mayor Mike Duggan used his emergency powers to ensure the city still offered paratransit services under the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT).  

RELATED: BridgeDetroit: DDOT says paratransit service improved since cutting ties with old vendor

Since then, DDOT has continued to fill the paratransit services with temporary contractors as they search for a long-term provider. At the same time, the Department of Justice is looking into if the city has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing riders with disabilities.  

One Detroit contributor Bryce Huffman sat down with Williams to learn more about her experiences as a rider and what she hopes to get from the new service provider. Plus, Huffman talks with Mikel Oglesby, executive director of transit for Detroit, about what the future holds for Detroit’s paratransit services. 

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