SMART bus riders hope metro Detroit residents vote 'yes'

Regional transit system seeks millage which would give it $27 million a year

By Lauren Podell - Reporter

ROYAL OAK, Mich. - The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) needs a tax hike to bring in more money but its bus service in metro Detroit.

If residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties don't vote "yes" in two weeks, jobs will be cut in 2015, bus service will get cut and the SMART bus service will altogether fizzle out.

It's a service Allandria Williams relies on everyday.

"I really, really rely on this bus, like, majorly," said Williams, who lives in Detroit and works in Royal Oak. "How am I going to get to work? Is anybody going to give me a job? No. There are no jobs in the city. All the jobs are far out. So I have to have a way to make it out here everyday."

SMART's money troubles break down as follows:

  1. $50 million in revenue lost since 2008
  2. More than 190 buses need to be replaced
  3. New millage would bring in $27 million a year for SMART
  4. Owner of $100,000 home would pay $100 more each year

Number 4 is not something everyone in the area is willing to do. However, it's a cost priceless to riders who sit in the bus seats everyday.

"There are more (SMART) buses on the streets than the DDOT buses and they go places that the DDOT buses don't go, so we need these SMART buses," said James Morgan, a SMART bus rider.

SMART says the company hasn't sought a millage in more than a decade. If the 4-year millage is raised to 1 mill, SMART will still have one of the lowest millage rates in the state among regional transit systems.

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