SMART bus says services may end in 2015

SMART wants to increase taxes

DETROIT - No SMART bus service after 2015? That's not what the company's 2014 budget says, and some local leaders simply don't believe it.

Local passenger Shamika Hatcher relies on several SMART buses to get from Southfield to Oakland University in Rochester.

"I'd be messed up," Hatcher said, when asked about what would happen if SMART buses stopped running.

In fact, Hatcher pays a $2.25 fare for a ride.

"I've taken a cab to school, (I'm) not trying to do that again," Hatcher said.

But the General Manager of SMART is making the rounds to Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties with an alarming warning: The buses will stop running after 2015 if SMART doesn't get a tax hike.

Homeowners fund SMART, and leaders confirm that SMART is looking to increase taxes to one million, raising $28 million per year to keep the buses moving.

But is the entire system really ready to come to a halt?

Wayne County Commissioner Gary Woronchak says he's surprised at the language he's hearing SMART officials use. But he sympathizes with them, saying there are fewer property tax dollars to work with. His issue is that SMART wants to go to voters to ask for the tax hike in August. He says the vote should be in November.

"The default for people who want taxes passed is to have a primary election vote because it's a smaller turnout and it's easier to manipulate the outcome of an election in a primary election because it's a smaller universe of voters," Woronchak said. "So, my preference right away is to do an election in November."

SMART's 2014 budget does say that the bus fleet is aging and that they've cut spending to the bone. But SMART doesn't hint of an impending bus shutdown in writing.

View: SMART 2014 budget report

According to the budget report, SMART's "cash flow remains positive through these times."

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