pilot service

Downtown Detroit to Airport Express Pilot

The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) is launching an express bus pilot service that will connect Downtown Detroit and the Airport. This pilot service will kick off in March 2024 and is funded by a $2.5 million grant through the Federal Highway Administration’s Carbon Reduction Program, which was administered by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG).

what to expect

Proposed Pilot Highlights:

Launch Date:

March 2024


PROPOSED: Up to $15 (one-way) standard fare, discounts available


PROPOSED: Daily service (365 days per year) running tentatively from 3:30 am to 11:00 pm, up to 16 daily round trips

Pick-up And Drop-Off Locations:

  • Downtown Detroit proposed stop on the west side of Washington Blvd near State St.
  • Tentatively Departures at the McNamara Terminal, and Ground Transportation at the Evans Terminal

Full presentation

Check out the Downtown Detroit to Airport Express pilot service presentation from January 2024 public hearings. 


Based on discussions with city partners and stakeholders, the RTA proposes its downtown stop on the west side of Washington Boulevard at the intersection with State Street as the Downtown Detroit pick up and drop off location. This was proposed for its proximity to places to stay, public transportation connections, and local attractions. This intersection is in the heart of the hotel district, and around the corner from Rosa Parks Transit Center — and also within a block or two from stops for DDOT, MoGo bike share, the People Mover, QLINE, and SMART. This stop is anticipated to complement existing transit service and traffic patterns.


Detroit to Airport Express pilot service will stop at both McNamara and Evans Terminals at Detroit Metro Airport (DTW). For more information, see the presentation from Jan. 2024 above.

Similar to D2A2, the new Detroit to Airport Express pilot service is designed for the comfort of travelers and regular commuters. Coach buses are equipped with comfortable seats; arm- and footrests; WiFi; USB charging ports; individual lighting; a bathroom; other amenities; and ample room for each traveler. There is undercarriage storage available for luggage. The buses are ADA-compliant, can accommodate two wheelchairs, and there are lifts available for easy boarding.  

The Detroit to Airport Express pilot service is anticipated to launch in spring 2024. The date is planned for the end of March in advance of NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (March Madness) games that will be played in Detroit. Visitors will be able to take the service in time for the 2024 NFL Draft.


The service is funded through a Carbon Reduction Program grant for one year thanks to the US and Michigan Departments of Transportation as well as Southeast Michigan Council of Government, with the potential of funding for an additional six months or more. The RTA hopes to continue this pilot with additional funding.

Michigan Flyer will operate the RTA’s Detroit to Airport Express pilot service. Michigan Flyer is a Michigan-based inter-city bus service that runs luxury coach buses. The service will travel along I-94 to deliver passengers from one destination to another in about 30-50 minutes.


The RTA has received questions about rail connection to the airport. There is no existing rail line to DTW. A rail connection will take several years and significant resources to establish. Operating a bus service pilot will allow the RTA to collect needed data to justify long-term demand and ridership expectation. The current service will satisfy a longtime request of Southeast Michigan residents who ask for affordable public transportation options to connect directly with the airport.

The service is proposed to operate up to 16 roundtrips per day approximately hourly between 3:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. Since people travel at all times of the year, it would operate on holidays too. The expected travel time is 30 to 50 minutes one way, depending on traffic conditions and the departure/arrival terminal.


Please be aware: Upcoming construction along the route may impact travel times.

Tickets are proposed to cost up to $15, with discounts available. Examples of discounts include half price options for individuals with disabilities and seniors, reduced prices for purchases made in advance, and a prospective frequent rider and commuter passbook with reduced fares. An example of a similar ticketing purchase interface is available at D2A2.com.


Tickets are not available as of now. However, tickets would be available online prior to service launch, and will be easily accessible online through the RTA and Michigan Flyer websites. Future riders can also purchase tickets at the door, subject to availability.

Not at this time. The service as proposed is designed to be as quick and appealing to as many riders as possible, and this direct route has been identified as a priority through RTA surveys and reports. Since this is a pilot project, the RTA will study the success of this route for a one- to three-year test period. In the long term, the RTA has a strategic investment priority (strategy) of establishing more express services throughout its four-county region.

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