Auburn Hills Council Votes to Quit SMART, Eliminate Most Transit

While only some of us use transit, all of us need it, since we all depend on people who depend on transit.

Despite overwhelming calls not to, the Auburn Hills City Council voted to replace SMART bus service with their own limited service, only for seniors and disabilities, only Monday through Friday.

Unless something changes, no able-bodied person under 60 will have any public transit service in Auburn Hills next year!

This is absurd and wrong for several reasons:

1) The voters of Auburns Hills strongly support SMART. More than 70% of voters approved the SMART millage in 2018, 2014, and in 2010 – not even close!

2) SMART is piloting Flex service there – an on-demand Uber-type service that takes anyone anywhere in the Auburn Hills/Pontiac area for just a few dollars. It’s new and proving to be quite popular, yet would be eliminated by this action.

3) While most residents do drive, we all depend on someone who depends on transit! Many workers in restaurants, day care centers, hospitals, and grocery stores depend on the bus, at least some of the time.

A rushed vote at a “planning” workshop

This proposal was first unveiled at a February 7 Council Workshop, at which SMART leaders, a dozen transit supporters, and a few supportive Councilmembers eloquently explained why keeping transit is so important, sharing the above points and many others. Oakland University students who depend on the bus complained they’d be stranded. Neighboring Rochester and Pontiac residents urged them to not eliminate the service that connects their communities. SMART’s new General Manager Dwight Ferrell explicitly stated he would meet all of the Council’s requests if they remained.

Despite that, a majority of the Council voted to direct their attorney to draft ballot language to place a 0.5 mil property tax on their local ballot to replace SMART. They acknowledged that they would lose fixed route bus service, Connector Service, ADA Connector bus, and Flex, but didn’t seem to care.

Ignoring public calls to keep SMART rolling

The February 21 City Council meeting was packed. Over 30 people people spoke out during public comment – every single one urging Council to remain in SMART. Past elected officials, neighboring elected officials, disability advocates, transit-dependent workers, and concerned residents.

Despite that overwhelming support, 5 of the 7 Council members voted for the City to leave SMART anyway.

Unless something changes, all SMART bus services will end at the end of 2022.

Stay tuned for more opportunities to fight back!