Here is information from a budget-minded traveler about public transit bus service from Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW) to downtown Detroit. Page was created after a personal experience on September 25, 2004, with information updated following web search on July 28, 2012. This travel option was not well described at the airport in 2004. If you try this option, send feedback to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, especially if this page contains errors or needs improvement.
SMART Bus route 125 is the lowest price option for getting from the main Detroit (Wayne County) Metropolitan Airport to downtown Detroit. The fare is now (July 2012) $2.00 (cash, exact change, dollar bills accepted but not dollar coins). Fare page is http://www.smartbus.org/faresandpasses/overview/Pages/default.aspx.
The bus as of 2012 is reportedly clean, modern, and safe, but not fast. It travels on non-freeway streets through older suburbs. Bus stops are close together. It does not get stuck in traffic, but takes a circuitous route and one point winds through a small shopping mall. The travel time from the airport to downtown Detroit (financial district) is about 90 minutes.
A taxicab or rental car takes about 30 minutes from the airport to downtown Detroit, but costs much more. Unlike most U.S. airports I have seen, Detroit Metro Airport offers no reasonably priced express bus option for downtown Detroit hotels as of July 2012. Notice that the SMART Bus option is mentioned, just barely, at the bottom of the Metro Airport ground travel options page http://www.metroairport.com/transportation/.
Go to this SMART Bus web page for the schedule of route number 125: http://www.smartbus.org/schedules/overview/Pages/default.aspx. On this page you have to use drop-down menus to choose Route 125, weekday or weekend, and direction. From the Airport to downtown Detroit is North.
Route 125 buses leave the Detroit Metro airport for downtown approximately every 60 minutes on weekdays, from both the (older) L.C. Smith Terminal, and the (newer) McNamara Terminal that serves Delta and Continental Airlines. Check the schedule for which terminal is served when, and for the different weekend schedule. If you just miss the bus at one terminal, you could take the available free shuttle to the other terminal and catch the route 125 bus there that leaves 30 minutes later than the one you just missed.
In downtown Detroit, the bus driver if asked will (probably) let you off near a People Mover station, an elevated circulator transit system that covers the downtown area. The SMART Bus network also has routes to other places in the Metro area. System maps are at http://www.smartbus.org/schedules/maps/Pages/default.aspx.
The Google Maps site http://maps.google.com/ does provide public transit routing options throughout the Detroit Metro area. Most trips will take a long time compared to automobile travel.
Happy (and economical) travels! Enter feedback about the information on this page to email@example.com.
One more thing -- there is an interesting social characteristic of transit riders in Detroit -- quite often all of the passengers on a bus, including the driver, get into a friendly but lively conversation about some topic of general interest -- the weather, sports, or some prominent news story. I've experienced this, and another visitor to Detroit, confirmed that this happens frequently.
You've been reading an unofficial, one-off information page at www.bettertransport.info that is only found easily via Google or Bing searching. Go to the SMART Bus website for the latest information on the downtown to the airport bus in Detroit. The Wikipedia page for the SMART system is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suburban_Mobility_Authority_for_Regional_Transportation.