Idea: The Hop-On Hop-Off Detroit Bus Tour

In most of the books I’ve read about startups and small business, the one thing they repeat in nearly in all of them is to talk to your customer frequently, find out what they need and deliver that. If you keep talking to people, you’ll make your service better and better.

With that in mind, I’d like to hear your feedback on an idea we’ve been developing for a while. We’ve realized that the “designing exceptional experiences” thing is always easier and more fun when you’re involved.


The Idea:

We want to start a Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour similar to what runs in other major cities. The basic idea is our buses would run in a continuous loop through all of Detroit’s major neighborhoods. Riders would buy one pass to last them all day. They can get on and off the bus as frequently as they like so people can make their own itinerary. Each bus would be staffed with a knowledgeable tour guide sharing with you the meaning behind the locations as they go by and what guests should think about doing.

Our guided 4 hour experiences are great, but it’s our assumption that in coming years people will want to discover the city on their own accord and getting between neighborhoods with useful information and storytelling at your disposal is critical. We’d supply guests with an Adventure Kit jammed packed full of useful information on things to do, discounts for neighborhood businesses and helpful resources in case they get stuck or lost.

The Why:

We love public transit and we love getting to tell the story of Detroit, so this does both! It’s our mission to make public transit better for Detroiters which we do through our Ride for Ride program, where we give a Detroit kid a safe ride to school or after school program for every tour ticket sold. That mission would extend to this service. Meanwhile, folks living around or visiting Detroit will have a fun new way to go experience the whole city without being confined to a single central neighborhood.

Most major cities have a great Hop-on Hop-off bus tour that allows tourists and locals alike to get around without needing to rent a car or take Lyft everywhere.

The Extras:

There are about a million little things we are thinking about to add to this tour as it develops, but some of the quick ideas are as follows:

  • Being able to buy tickets on your phone or at neighborhood pickup locations.
  • Actual streetside bus stops clearly marked for boarding.
  • Live GPS Tracking on all the buses (They already do this!)
  • An All-Access Pass to Detroit’s cultural institutions.
  • Printed informational maps available at all local area businesses.
  • Audio story experiences on your phone at select stops about local history.
  • Express buses from suburban pickup locations so people can get down to the city and back without a car.
  • Bike racks on the buses!
  • WiFi on the buses.
  • Additional walking and bike tours that leave from some of the bus stops.

The Questions:

We value your feedback very highly! There is a lot of work to be done with this, but here’s the four main points of feedback we need. Either comment on this post below, comment on our Facebook thread or send us an email to with your answers, please!

  1. Would this be something you’d use?
  2. Would this be something you’d recommend to people if it was fun?
  3. What issues do you see with this idea?
  4. Where should the route go?
  5. How can we make this idea better?


Thank you for your help! We’re excited to make this a reality!


PSST! Interested in:
sponsoring this tour?
having your organization partner with us about this tour?
investing in this tour experience financially?
working with us for a career? Click here.
other tours we offer? Click here.

12 replies on “Idea: The Hop-On Hop-Off Detroit Bus Tour

  • Denise Sheldon

    Hi. I love Detroit and think this is a great idea. However, like many others, I’m handicapped. Has any thought been given to accomodate this population?

    • Conor Chamness

      Hi Denise,

      My name is Conor Chamness and I am with a nonprofit called Venture for America and we are working on a project to improve transportation services for Detroit’s disadvantaged and handicapped. Would love to set up a time to chat with you about how we could help better address your needs. If you would like to chat, give me a call at (419) 960-5658.



  • Eva Louis

    Excellent ideathe charles wright museum is a must a clorful cotton tote bag and try to work in cooperation with the excellent family reunion commitee for detroit please send me ten marketing or promotional items i can mail to family reunion leaders i think they should love this

  • Anna Mier

    That is an awesome idea! Every time we have traveled to a new city we always looked for the hop on hop off tours. My daughter and I did your Halloween tour a couple years back and we had a blast!

    Keep up the good work promoting and helping the great City of Detroit!!!

  • Cindy deRosier

    As someone who blogs about educational travel and who will be visiting Detroit this summer for the first time, I say an emphatic YES! We always try to start with a hop-on-hop-off (our family calls them ho-ho’s) when we visit a city for the first time.

  • Bryan Hamburger

    Absolutely we need this! I live in Detroit and am a Detroit info nerd. I am very passionate about the city’s comeback and would love to help in anyway possible to get this going, please feel free to contact me .

  • Tom Burke

    My wife and I always use a Hop On, Hop Off bus tour when available in cities we visit. We are going to Detroit to visit the Ford Museum and if their were a Hop On tour we would certainly use it.

  • Helen

    We got a 10hr layover in Michigan and would love to see a bit of the city or maybe a hop and off tour bus. Firstly, we need to know the best way to get there from the airport then check on the tour buses around the city then back to the Airport again. It’ll be surely stressful but a bit of Detroit would be great than waiting 10hrs at the Airport:-)
    Does anyone has better suggestions? Would appreciate very much! Thanks. Happy Holidays

  • John Zarb

    We have taken the Hop On / Hop Off in Savannah, Ga., New Orleans, St. Augustine, FL., and Vancouver, BC, Canada. It is how we become introduced to a new city. We support your idea and suggest that you partner with agencies who are leading the reconstruction effort like the City of Detroit, Private investors, and those who would benefit the most. I could picture a linkage with suburban bus lines (e.g. Erie Transit in Monroe County) to bring folks from the suburbs to Detroit who would then have a full day to see the sights. Good luck with your endeavor.


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