April 1, 2015  |  Civic Engagement Detroit Social Capital Transportation

Sharon Burden

Grocery shopping and running errands can be frustrating for anyone. Finding the time to go, the hassle of getting there and back, and then hoping the store has what you need when you get there can be frustrating. It is much more challenging is it when you have to rely on public transit or other people to get you there. Busses in Detroit can be unreliable, inconvenient, and sometimes unsafe. When I found myself without a vehicle, I relied on friend’s to take me shopping.

It occurred tome that big stores should have a service to come pick people up to shop. So I called Meijer, Target, and Wal-Mart stores in the region. Most of the stores had never heard of anything like that being offered and were not interested. Until I called the Wal-Mart in Dearborn, Michigan. The manager there said that they had a shuttle service but it was currently full. I was surprised when the very next day she received a call back from the manager saying they had an opening.

Starting in January 2015, Wal-Mart began sending a full sized bus to the housing complex where I lived. The shuttle comes every Monday to take an average of 75 community members free of charge to shop for approximately one and a half hours. Sometimes there are so many people waiting that the driver has to make two trips, even though he is not required to do so. The only requirement for us is to fill out a short survey asking how much we spent and if we felt like they saved money. There are many seniors in the area as well as single parents and finding ways to save money is important to them. In the same plaza as the Wal-Mart are a furniture store, a Home Depot, and a sporting goods store. So, as well as getting groceries, we have access to a variety of products.

One of the residents said the shuttle a blessing. She used to pay a friend up to $20 a trip to take her shopping and often her driver would ask her to buy some groceries for them as well. Another resident shared that she had no insurance for her vehicle and no current drivers’ license so being able to take the shuttle to shop was a safer, better choice for her rather than risking fines if she were caught driving herself. Still another resident has even used the shuttle to get to Wal-Mart to fill out applications during a job fair and was later hired!

I organized a weekly shuttle service from my hosing complex to a shopping plaza for members of my community.

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