100 Years of Detroit Transit

Old Bus

DDOT and its predecessor, the Department of Street Railways, has used many iterations of trolleys and buses over the years. It still has in its collection several trolleys that were used decades ago.

DDOT historic trolleys
Historic trolley with 25-cent fare sign

Among the earliest trolleys in the DDOT collection features a hand-painted sign for fare of 25 cents.

Another historic trolley features a hand-painted sign advertising 45 cent fare. The portion of the trolley that was painted over for the new fare is clearly visible.

Historic trolley with 45-cent fare sign
exterior of historic trolley

Another of the early trolleys in the DDOT collection.



The Russell Route as it was put into place in 1940, and updated multiple times since. Early schedules were hand-sketched and total route length was determined by hand.



Russell Route map



interior of historic trolley

The older trolleys that once ran as DSR vehicles have manually operated doors and other features.

The exterior of one of the historic trolleys in the current DDOT collection.

exterior of historic trolley


interior of historic trolley

The interior of the earlier trolleys featured bench seating along the walls, with handles for riders at the center of the coaches.

In 1937, street car mileage logs were kept by hand on grid paper. Mileage was reconciled and calculated manually.

Street car mileage
exterior of silverside bus

DDOT has in its collection a "silverside" bus, part of the fleet when the organization was still the Department of Street Railways.

Silverside interior

interior of silverside bus
Hazel Park Race Track 1964

In 1964, 25 cents could take riders from the State Fairgrounds to the Hazel Park Race Track.

1963 - List of streets in Highland Park on which DSR coaches were approved to travel.

Highland Park Streets 1963
Ford Property 1944

Several DSR routes stopped on the Ford property from 1944 onward.

Inventory of coaches in service as of Dec. 31, 1972. Both diesel and gas vehicles were on the roads.

Coach Inventory 1972
Amtrak Commuter Shuttle 1978

A hand-drawn commuter Amtrak / DOT shuttle dated 1978. Slightly different routes were used for morning and afternoon to accommodate commuter traffic.

Early bus operator pins, with a previous DOT logo, before it became known as DDOT.

driver's cap pin
driver's cap pins



Downtown Trolley 1980s
Downtown Trolley 1980s map


A mini bus shuttle service connected New Center, the University Cultural Center, and the Medical Center, in 1980.


Three Center Mini1980

The Department of Transportation also operated a downtown trolley in the 1980s.


Coins Only 1987 flyer


As of May 31, 1987, DDOT accepted coins as the only cash option, although fare tickets and monthly passes were also available.




A hand-tallied of coach miles operated for the fiscal year 1987-1988.

Coach Miles 1987



anyone taller than 44 inches must pay
Public Transit: Moving Detroit Forward


Charles Narozny
Charles Narozny

The following seven photos were taken by Charles N. Narozny, (1926-2005), who dedicated 34 years of public service to the City of Detroit government, starting in 1949 as a clerk in the Assessor’s Offices and then for the Elections Commission. He was promoted to senior committee clerk for Detroit City Council in 1961 where he remained for more than 20 years until his retirement in 1983. Concurrently, in the evenings and on weekends, he maintained a professional portrait and event photography business for more than 40 years, serving hundreds of customers in the metro Detroit area. Constantly on the move (during his lunchtime and after hours) near his downtown Detroit office, Charles captured thousands of images, documenting famous Detroit landmarks, demolitions, construction projects, and historical events in traditional 4x5 inch, 6x7cm, and 35mm film formats. He processed and printed all of his own black and white photography in his customized home darkroom, where his wife and six children all took turns as his photo lab and office assistants. Charles also proudly served in the Marine Corps in WWII for two years in the south Pacific and Guam, where he earned an Honorable Discharge in 1945.


1955 Campus Martius

1955 Campus Martius

1967 Campus Martius

1967 Campus Martius
1972 Jefferson and Woodward

1972 Jefferson and Woodward

1973 Pre Hart Plaza

1973 Pre Hart Plaza
1973 Monroe

1973 Monroe

1975 Cadillac Square

1975 Cadillac Square


Do you have old pictures or other memorabilia from DSR or DDOT? Email us at [email protected]!