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Millions Raised For Detroit Man Who Has An Arduous Commute

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And now the story of one man's mind-boggling commute that has gone viral on the Internet.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

James Robertson is a 56-year-old Detroit man who takes the bus a bit but then walks most of the four hours it takes to get to his factory job. He also walks back. That 21 miles of walking every day.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JAMES ROBERTSON: I try to get home - you know, throw my clothes off and go into bed and fall asleep, you know. There's not much time. About two hours - at least two hours before I wake up at 6 and do it again.

GREENE: That's Robertson there speaking in an online interview with the Detroit Free Press about his average day of getting to work and back again.

MONTAGNE: Robertson says he's been doing this five days a week for several years, ever since his car broke down and Detroit's bus service was cut back.

GREENE: Now, there are some questions that have arisen since this story broke - like why not use a bike? - which Detroit bike shop manager Joseph Landis says would cut down his commute considerably.

JOSEPH LANDIS: It would be much easier to ride a bike to work. And I would say it'd probably take two hours, maybe more at first. You could shave down your time to like an hour, hour-and-a-half.

GREENE: The Detroit Free Press also reports that the city does have a few ride-to-work services for low-income people that Robertson might qualify for. But the paper says he wasn't aware of that option. "Atlantic Magazine" writer David Graham, who's written about Robertson, says this story has sparked conversations about urban planning and city public transportation issues.

NANCY GRAHAM: We've known for a long time that better public transport options will help people out. But there's often not political will to do that, or there isn't the money for it.

GREENE: In the meantime, Robertson has been offered free new cars from several dealerships.

MONTAGNE: And college students started a fund drive that's now collected more than $250,000 for him. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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