D.S.R. Route #64
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
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
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) operated 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.
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 service 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,
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.