Ask MSU alumnus Daniel Brooks (BA Philosophy 2004) how he came to be the Chief Operating Officer for the Detroit Bus Company (DBC) and develop a program that offers free transportation for Detroit-area youth, and he will say it was “pure serendipity.”
Brooks had just moved back to Michigan with his wife, MSU alumna Sarah Gold (James Madison College 2004), after earning his master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Maryland.
“I didn’t have a job, yet, and knew no one in the area except family,” Brooks said. “So when I heard that a Detroit-area group, Transportation Riders United, had rented a bus to travel to an advocacy meeting in Lansing, it sounded like a good way to meet urban planning people in the area.”
Instead, Brooks ended up talking with the bus driver, Andy Didorosi, Founder and Owner of the DBC, a private company that aims to fill Detroit’s transit gaps. Because DBC was still small, Didorosi was driving the bus.
“We hit it off,” Brooks said, “and a couple months later, Andy called asking, ‘Do you want to make your own job?’ I thought that sounds better than looking for a job!”
Beginning as a volunteer, Brooks helped design and work on company programs from the ground up and soon became Director of Transit Planning. A stint as head of sales followed before he became Chief Operating Officer for the company.
One program Brooks helped develop is the DBC’s Ride for Ride program that launched this past February. The program provides transportation to school or after-school programs for Detroit children in need.
“The way Ride for Ride works is every time we sell a charter or tour, some of the money goes to getting kids a free ride for a field trip or other transport need,” Brooks said. “We keep track of every ticket sold, so every single sale results in a Detroit kid getting a safe ride.”
With there being a tremendous need for safe youth transportation in Detroit, the DBC works closely with youth programs and schools in the city to identify the kids most in need of transportation to build true educational equality across all neighborhoods.
“We say that Ride for Ride is ‘The honest alternative to student school transport,’” Brooks said. “Our motivation is we want to do good, so we’re focused on building the program and growing it as we should, how we should.”
As Brooks and Didorosi work on growing the Detroit Bus Company and building the company’s online presence, they also continue looking for ways to help Detroit’s youth.
“We remain committed to filling transit gaps in Detroit,” Brooks said, “and we never stop looking for ways to serve youth.”