D-DOT Route #33
JOHN R. LIMITED
Interestingly, although the City of Detroit at one time operated its own bus line along John R street,
from 1925 to 1988 (see
John R.North), it appears that previous to the DSR launching its John R. bus  
line, suburban service across a similar route had already started.  Around 1924, the  Royal  Oak, Big
Beaver & Rochester Bus Company
operated its Rochester Road to Highland Park bus line
along John R. Street.

In December of 1925, the route was purchased by the
Detroit Motorbus Company. The line
traveled from Woodward and Manchester, at the Ford Motor facilty in Highland Park, via Woodward,
Puritan, Second and Six Mile, then via John R.,  west along Eleven Mile, and north along Rochester
Road to Rochester. Of course, there was no local passenger service in Detroit.

However, after a year-and-a-half,
Detroit Motorbus sold the route to the Martin & Sons bus
operation on March 1, 1927.  During most of its years under the
Martin Lines, the "Highland
Park-Royal Oak-Troy via John R"
bus line would  U-turn at Woodward and Manchester, and
operated via Woodward, Six Mile, John R, and Eleven Mile Road to Royal Oak. The route was
extended along John R to the Oakland Mall, just north of 14 Mile Road, after the mall opened in 1967.
Their John R route was one of only two lines still left in operation when the
Martin Lines were
purchased by
SEMTA for $345,000 on March 20, 1975.

While under
SEMTA, the route was extended into Downtown Detroit, but trips to Royal Oak via Eleven
Mile Road were eventually eliminated. In 1975, a new three-digit route number
"495" was assigned to
the route. In 1989, the
#495 John R continued on after SEMTA was reorganized as SMART. It would
be along this same Route
#495 John R where a basic duplication of SMART service by DDOT would
result, beginning February 3, 1997.

Under
DDOT, "Limited" service operated along John R., Monday thru Fridays, from approximately
5:30AM to 5:30PM. Headways averaged 29 minutes with limited stops along Woodward, at Mack,
Warren, and Grand Boulevard, with local service from Manchester to the Oakland Mall. Downtown
service looped around the
Renaissance Center turnaround via E. Jefferson, St. Antoine, and Ren
Cen Drive. There was no service on Saturdays and Sundays.

However, in January, 1998,
DDOT announced that it could no longer afford to run its buses outside
the city of Detroit. Consequently, effective on, Saturday, January 17, 1998 -- as part of a
departmental-wide cost-cutting move --
DDOT discontinued all of its suburban bus service, including
its route
#33 John R. Limited.

But the relationship between
John R. Street and DDOT wasn't over just yet.  On Saturday, August
23, 2003,
DDOT relaunched its route #33 John R. This new service was a Limited Stop Service which
operated only on weekends. The line traveled from Beaubien and Jefferson downtown via Woodward,
McNichols and John R. to the Oakland Mall in Troy. Although it provided 20 and 25 minute service on
Saturdays and Sundays respectively, it was basically a duplication of the weekday
SMART Route
#495
, which also operated on weekends, but turned at Manchester in Highland Park.

During a budget crisis in 2005, the city of Detroit faced major cuts in city services. As a result,
DDOT
officials decided to cancel service on seven of its routes, including the
Route #33 John R. Limited,
effective on Saturday, April 23, 2005. The last day of
DDOT service along John R. was Sunday, April
17th. Weekend service along John R. would continue to  be operated by the
SMART #495 John R,
but only as far south as Woodward and Manchester in Highland Park.  

So far,
DDOT bus service along John R. Street has not returned.


JOHN R. FACTOID:
Did you know???  ...that the street John R. was self-named by Detroit's first "elected" mayor, John R. Williams, who
took office in 1825. John Williams was a prominent Detroit landowner, businessman, and bank president, who was
also the nephew of the town's richest citizen, Joseph Campau. As was often the case back in those days, large
landowners would name streets after their family property, or even after themselves, as Williams did.  Actually, the
"R"
wasn't his middle initial, he gave himself that middle initial
"R" to differentiate himself from another John Williams
who lived in Detroit at the time.  

There were also two other Detroit streets John R. Williams was responsible for naming;
Elizabeth, which he named
after his daughter, and
Columbia, after a street where Williams lived in Albany, New York. There was also another
street later named in honor of John R.... "
Williams Street" ....which runs just west of the Jeffries Freeway, between the
I-94 & I-96 Interchange and Michigan Ave.


Information for the above article was compiled from various Detroit newspapers articles courtesy of the Stan Sycko newspaper collection,
and from the DDOT Route Update notices and bulletins archived in the author's collection. Suburban John R. bus route information
obtained from Motor Coach Age magazine articles, "Detroit's Suburban Buses" October-December 2002 edition, and "SEMTA and
SMART"  October-December 2003 edition, by Schramm and Campbell
© 2007
Back in March of 1996, former DDOT Director Al Martin
announced plans to develop suburban bus routes along
John R.,  Woodward,  Van Dyke,  Greenfield and
Gratiot. Instead of terminating at Eight Mile Road (the city
limits), these
DDOT routes would begin traveling out into
the far northern suburbs. The initial plan to extend these
DDOT routes was actually the result of a financial
squabble between
DDOT and SMART, with both systems
threatening to stop honoring each other's transfers and
monthly bus passes. However, an agreement was soon
reached, and plans to extend
DDOT routes into the
suburbs were dropped, ...at least for the moment.

Part of that agreement also called for both systems to work
towards consolidating service along seven bus routes, with
consolidated service to begin on Woodward Avenue by
that fall.  But by November, the talks were deadlocked, and
the plans were postponed indefinitely. When
SMART
began to pick up and drop off passengers in Detroit in
mid-December, followed immediately by
DDOT launching
suburban shuttle routes, it became evident that a transit
turf war had begun. Instead of cooperating and
consolidating, the two systems were now competing.    

Beginning the following February,
DDOT began operating
suburban bus service along six major lines, with all the
routes duplicating
SMART service.  The #33 John R.
Limited
line was just one of the new routes that resulted
from this bus system turf war. (see "
DDOT Suburban
Routes")

Effective Monday, February 3, 1997,
DDOT began its
suburban service on Route
#33 John R. Limited. This
new service would actually duplicate the
SMART Route
#495 John R,
which ironically DDOT operated two years
prior during a "short-lived" route-swapping agreement with
the
Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional
Transportation (SMART)
.