D-DOT Route #33
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© 2007  (PAGE LAST MODIFIED ON 9-06-07)
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.
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
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
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
#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
Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART)

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
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,
#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
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 --
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.
weekend route.
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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,
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.
Route operated under D-DOT