City of Detroit names new transit center after DDOT operator Jason Hargrove

March 19, 2024
Hargrove was a bus driver for DDOT who died in April 2020 due to COVID-19.

In the city of Detroit, Mich., a new transit center redevelopment site will open its doors in May and will be named after the late Jason Hargrove, a bus driver who had passed in 2020 from COVID-19. 

Hargrove was a bus driver for the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) in the early days of the pandemic in March 2020. An interaction with a rider had prompted him to post a video about the maskless passenger coughing on him. In the video, Hargrove urges members of the public to be more respectful and considerate toward bus drivers and amassed millions of views for his plea for driver safety. Ten days later, Hargrove passed away from COVID.

When it opens, the Jason Hargrove Transit Center, which was built over the former Michigan State Fairgrounds, will honor Hargrove's memory in the community as a voice for driver safety and transit workers everywhere. 

“When Jason died, it broke all our hearts," said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. "He was doing everything right, showing up to work at the onset of a pandemic to make sure people could get where they needed. He was supporting his family and he was trying to keep himself and others safe. Jason was a hero to all of us and for the next 100 years, he will be remembered by everyone who uses this beautiful new transit center." 

Duggan has also requested a resolution be made by the city council supporting the naming.   

Work on the 52,000-square-foot transit center began a year ago as part of a $31 million redevelopment project of the area, including a transformation of a former dairy cattle barn into the new indoor transit hub with a public open space anchored by a restored portico of the historic State Fair Coliseum that once stood on the site. The outdoor space will be open for community events, concerts and food trucks.  

The interior of the new hub will include some retail/restaurant options, an indoor lobby and public waiting area, a ticket office, restrooms for the public and a separate lounge and restroom area for transit operators, giving them an end-of-the-route respite point.  

“Countless citizens of the city of Detroit died during the pandemic and many families were battered and broken by COVID-19,” said DDOT Interim Executive Director of Transit G. Michael Staley. "One of those citizens, Jason Hargrove, was a part of the DDOT family. Those who worked closely with Mr. Hargrove knew him as a dedicated public servant, good friend and loving husband and father. Jason Hargrove remains in the hearts and minds of those who knew him best. His legacy will be enshrined at the DDOT Transit Center that bears his name.” 

DDOT notes the plan to reuse the dairy cattle building and the portico was approved by Detroit City Council in November 2021 after they were presented with the results of a city-commissioned a feasibility study that determined adaptive reuse of the historic buildings was an option.  

The transit center will become a major transportation hub to the community, providing services to DDOT and SMART riders, as well as ride share customers and those using other transportation forms such as MoGo bikes and scooters.