Time to Defend and Expand Transit!

For thirty years, SMART has been the transit provider for Macomb County and much of Oakland and Wayne Counties.

Image showing 8 diverse people riding a bus, including a white senior couple, a young black man listening to headphones, and a young family

Tens of thousands of people depend on SMART every day to get to work, school, doctors, shopping, recreation, and much more.

We all depend on people who depend on transit. In fact, one-third of essentials workers ride the bus.

And SMART depends on voters to reaffirm their funding every four years – including in 2022. Without it, SMART could not function.

Yet most people here in the Motor City drive most the time. Most have no personal experience with transit nor do they think much about it. And that’s got to change!

2022 is a critical year for transit.

We need to defend transit: To keep SMART rolling, we must this summer make sure Macomb residents recognize the value of public transit for their communities, even if they don’t use it.

We can also expand transit! In Oakland County, we also have an incredible opportunity to expand into areas that have long needed it, like Novi, Rochester, and Waterford. These places have a lot of people, jobs, and important destinations, but if you don’t drive, you can’t go. Oakland County is poised to go all-in on transit! But that also means that a lot of people who have never been asked about the SMART system will need to support it this year.

We know from twenty years of experience that when the people of southeast Michigan are educated about the community benefits of transit, are invited into the process of planning for transit, and are reminded of its value, that they will support it. So the next six months will be a critical time to defend and expand bus service, while also building a base of support for investing in rapid transit in the future.

TRU is launching a Community Conversation about transit.

Over the next 100 days, we plan to educate 10,000 people about the benefits of transit and engage with 1,000 in dialogue about what their community needs.

  • We will do this by partnering with and mobilizing 50 civic leaders to communicate with their constituents and networks.
  • We will also talk transit with 30 civic leagues, neighborhood associations, and other community organizations.
  • We will co-host a series of Town Hall Community Conversations with diverse audiences throughout the region.
  • And we will engage the local media and social media in the conversation.

You can help make it happen.

  • Community organizations and civic leagues can invite a trained speaker to come to their regular meeting for a transit talk.
  • Municipal officials and other civic leaders can share information with their communities and networks about the value of transit. (And we can help!)
  • Volunteers can join our bi-weekly strategy meetings, Transit on Tap gatherings, and join us at community fairs and festivals to talk transit. (Reach out to Thomas@DetroitTransit.org for details.)
  • And everyone should donate to support this essential work:

The cost to implement all that education and engagement is $150,000, of which we’ve raised $60,000 so far. We need another $90,000 to fully implement this robust and essential community conversation. That is purely public education charitable work, donations to which are tax deductible.

(Note: once the measures are on the ballot, there will be a separate Vote Yes campaign that will not be tax deductible.)

Together, we will defend and expand transit throughout Macomb and Oakland Counties!