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The former route #64 Michigan Shuttle was
a short 2.8 mile long shuttle bus service once
operated by the DSR. The line operated from
the Wyoming Loop—located along Wyoming
just south of Michigan Ave.—to the Schaefer
Highway entrance, Gates #9 and #11, of the
Ford Motor Company's River Rouge complex.
The route originated as an extension service,
and later as a branch, of the Michigan street-
car line, after rail service along Michigan Ave.
had been extended to service the newly built
Ford River Rouge auto plant, located in what
had now become the city of Dearborn.
During Word War I, the Ford Motor Company
began building small anti–submarine warfare boats
for the U.S. Navy. These ships, known as "Eagle
Boats," were manufactured in Ford's new Eagle
D.S.R. Route #64
Shipbuilding Plant (built in 1917), which was located along the Rouge River in Springwells Township. Meanwhile, by
1920, the Ford Motor Company had outgrown its Model T assembly plant (located in the city of Highland Park) and
construction soon began on an additional facility located on the Eagle Shipbuilding site, in what was then the Village
of Springwells. (In 1925, the Village of Springwells was renamed the city of Fordson, but consolidated into the city of
Dearborn in 1927)
Originally, the facility manufactured Fordson Tractors—in addition to suppling nearly all the parts for the Model T. But
in late 1927, auto production would begin at the plant with the introduction of the Ford Model A—the first automobile
to be completely assembled at the facility. By the time expansion had been completed in 1928, the Ford River Rouge
facility had expanded into the largest industrial complex in the country. The facility had become an almost self-sufficient
and self-contained industrial city, and at the time employing more than 90,000 workers.
Although public transit access to the east side of the facility, from the Eagle Road street entrance, had been launched as
early as 1918, by the privately–owned DUR (Detroit United Railway) company, transit access to the west side of the
complex didn't begin until June 28, 1925, after the DSR extended its Oakman (Northwest Belt Line) streetcar route
from Oakman Blvd. and Michigan Avenue (via Michigan and Schaefer) to the Ford Rouge facility's Schaefer Road gate. A
few months later, a number of Crosstown streetcars were also extended south of Warren Avenue—traveling along the
rails of the Oakman line to the Rouge plant. A Schaefer Road loop into the plant grounds opened on January 4, 1926.
The Michigan streetcar line began providing service to the Schaefer Road side of the Ford Rouge complex on Tuesday,
September 25, 1928, after the route was extended west from the Addison Wye terminus (just east of Wyoming). The
Michigan cars would continue west along Michigan Avenue—traveling along the DUR's interurban tracks, from Addison
street to Schaefer Road. The cars then traveled south along Schaefer Road to the Ford Rouge complex. An additional
Michigan route extension via Wyoming, to the DSR's Ford Rouge Miller Road South Yard, on the east side of the plant,
began back on July 8, 1928. Two branches now serviced the Michigan route, with cars marked "Michigan-Through"
continuing west to the Schaefer Road loop, while cars marked "Michigan-Rouge" turned south onto Wyoming to the
recently completed Ford/DSR Miller Road loading and unloading facilities.
By the early 1930's, Michigan streetcar service to the Ford Rouge complex on a given weekday between 3:35pm and
4:35pm required 53 runs to the DSR's Miller Road "North" Yard, and 17 runs to the Schaefer loop. However, by 1940,
the City of Dearborn had a change of heart regarding streetcars operating along Michigan Avenue, and requested that
the DSR remove the cars and tracks from that thoroughfare. But it wasn't until the DSR could purchase more fleets of
buses after World War II that the DSR could yield to that city's demands.
Beginning Sunday, August 4, 1946, Michigan streetcar service west of Wyoming Avenue was discontinued, except for
shift change trippers (including the mid-night shift). That same day, two Michigan Shuttle bus routes were launched;
the short-lived Michigan Shuttle Express, and the local Michigan Shuttle bus line. Both routes began at the former
Wyoming Carhouse Loop, located on Wyoming south of Michigan. The local bus followed along the streetcar route
via Michigan and Schaefer to the Ford Rouge plant, while the express bus (which operated only during peak hours) op-
erated non-stop via the Detroit Industrial Expressway (now I-94) — which at that time began at Michigan Avenue
west of Wyoming — exiting at Schaefer Road. However, the express service was short-lived and was discontinued the
following month, effective September 9, 1946. Beginning May 1, 1947, all Michigan rail service west of Wyoming was
discontinued as more buses became available, however, rail service via Wyoming would continue.
|Beginning in August of 1946, streetcar service along Michigan Avenue west of
Wyoming was discontinued and replaced by a shuttle bus to the Schaefer Road
side of the Ford Rouge plant. The above photo shows a DSR Ford Transit coach
working the Michigan Shuttle route while boarding passengers at the Wyoming
Terminal loop—the beginning of the line. (photo source: MCA Magazine)
During the early years, the Michigan Shuttle bus line provided 24-hour "owl" ser-
vice, and was originally operated primarily by the DSR's fleet of small-size (27-pass)
Ford Transit buses. Headways averaged 3–4 minutes during the peak hours and
15 minutes during the base. Six to ten coaches were required to maintain peak ser-
vice operation, two were needed during the base, and only one during owl service.
However, off-peak service on the Michigan Shuttle line was discontinued effective
June 18, 1959 – with service operating three periods a day to cover shift changes.
By 1968, headways had increased to 12–17-minute headways during the shuttle's
three periods of operation. By late 1969, the service operated with only 35-minute
headways during morning and evening shift change, and 15–20-minute headways
to cover the afternoon shift.
During one of the last major service reductions implemented
under the DSR, service on the Michigan Shuttle bus route,
along with a number of other DSR routes, was discontinued,
effective June 14, 1973.
Information for the above article compiled from numerous sources, including
"DETROIT'S STREET RAILWAYS Vol II: City Lines 1922-1956" (Bulletin 120 -
Central Electric Railfans' Association, by Schramm, Henning, and Dworrman),
"Detroit's DSR, Part 3" — May–June 1993 edition of Motor Coach Age (MCA)
magazine by Jack E. Schramm. Additional information acquired from 1950 DSR
Schedule Analysis and Headway Reports courtesy of Tom Breeding, and from
miscellaneous DSR Service Maps in the author's possession. Copy of Michigan
Shuttle 1969 transfer courtesy of the Stan Sycko collection.
For more information on the history of the Ford Motor Company's
River Rouge complex see:
The Henry Ford: Ford Rouge Factory Tour — The History of the
|A 1969 pocket schedule for the DSR's
Route #64 Mchigan Shuttle bus line.
(click-on image to view larger version)