Blog: Chris Ramos & Jennifer Harlan

Chris Ramos decided to buy a bus. He wanted to get people from the suburbs into Detroit. Then he got the idea to run the bus on biodiesel; might as well help save the planet, right? So he quit his job, hired Jennifer Harlan and started The Night Move. It wasn't as simple as it sounds. Chris and Jennifer will be blogging about starting a business in a recession, the obstacles they face and what they've learned so far.

Chris Ramos Post 4: One big happy

We’ve used our other posts to discuss some of things we think are important, things we’re trying to do something about. We’ll use this last post to talk about why metro Detroit is the perfect place for our system.  

We love Detroit. It has so much potential and there are so many good things already there. In this terrible economy, a lot of people are hoping Detroit will be able to rise above the fog of economic downturn. Maybe it can become a real cultural metropolitan center like New York or Chicago. Public transportation is going to be key for that. Not just us, because what we’re doing is kind of small. But we’re a start. The light rail system -- that’s going to make the difference. And if we can transform our industrial resources into tools for new industry, go from being Car Town to something else, Renewable Energy Town, maybe, then we’ll be able to see a renaissance in our city. 

We want to use our bus to bring people together, and to build a community between downtown folk and suburbanites. There are a lot of people who are hesitant to leave their comfort zones. Our goal is to push people to do just that. We talked to someone the other night who suggested our system will be a good utility for meeting people. If you’re new in town, hop on the bus for a tour of the metro area, and stop in some of the hottest spots along Woodward. You’re on a crowded bus with a lot of people who will be going to the same places you are; it’ll be a conversation starter. 

The biggest struggle we’re facing as we’re about to launch this shuttle service is not knowing how we’ll do. We’ve gotten tons of positive feedback: we’re popping up on message boards, blogs and even the Transportation Riders United (TRU) homepage, all without our influence; it’s really exciting. We just have no way of knowing how that will translate into, you know, butts in seats. We hope the facets of our business that we think are so great, and the points other people are responding to, will be enough to get it going. Metro Detroit needs public transportation. It will be sweet if we can get that ball -- and those wheels -- rolling. 

There seems to be a lot of buzz right now about rebuilding Detroit’s greatness. Detroit Renaissance, Inside Detroit, Metromode and Model D, and Open City -- there are all these groups right now with this as a common goal. It’s pretty awesome, and we’re pumped to be a part of it. Everyone’s so proud of this place. It’d be fantastic if we could make it a place to be truly proud of. A booming metropolis in our backyard? Sign us up.