Getting around Detroit

Public transport

Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) (tel: +1 313 933 1300 or +1 888 336 8287; operates a dependable bus service within the city centre. Buses run as frequently as every six minutes during rush hour on some routes and about every 20 minutes at other times of the day. A five-day pass is available. Free transfers are allowed and can be used to change up to two buses.

SMART buses (tel: +1 866 962 5515; service the suburbs. Major routes begin operating around 0500 and terminate after midnight. Transfers allow passengers to board a DDOT bus as well. There is also a monthly pass for both companies.

A light rail system, called the People Mover (tel: +1 313 224 2160;, navigates a 4.7km (3 miles) elevated single track surrounding Detroit's downtown business district, Monday to Thursday 0630-0000, Friday 0630-0200, Saturday 0900-0200 and Sunday 1200-0000. You can purchase a monthly pass but tickets are not transferable to buses. Check out the mosaic tile designs that have been added to beautify the stations.


Taxis operate 24 hours a day. In more remote locations, you can order taxi services by telephone from companies like Checker (tel: +1 313 963 7000). Tipping is not compulsory for standard journeys, but is always appreciated.


Traffic is heaviest in Detroit around rush hour (0730-0930 and 1630-1900), as workers fill the downtown area in the morning and hurry away in the evening. The freeways that connect the city centre with the outlying suburbs can become particularly congested. The city is laid out on a conventional grid system, but this is sometimes compromised by the meandering shoreline of the Detroit River and Lake St Clair. The most important streets downtown are Woodward Avenue and Jefferson Avenue.

For a list of city-run car parks, see

Car hire

Many car hire firms operate in Detroit, including Avis +1 734 942 3450;, Budget (tel: +1 734 941 3632; and Enterprise (tel: +1 313 393 2344;

Drivers must be 21 years or older and drivers under 25 may have to pay a surcharge with certain firms. Foreign drivers must possess a valid national licence, but it's always advisable to check in advance with the car hire firm in case an International Driving Permit is required. Insurance is available from car hire companies.

Bicycle hire

Cycling in Detroit is becoming more popular and is relatively easy in this flat city. Wheelhouse Detroit (tel: +1 313 656 2453; hires out bikes to explore the ‘Motor City’, and offers guided biking tours around the riverfront and parks.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.