In November 2022, Oakland County voters approved 10 years of funding for SMART and other local providers. With this county-wide system, new bus routes will be established starting this summer!
At Wednesday, February 8th’s meeting of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners’ Finance Committee, Oakland County Deputy Executive Hilary Chambers presented the service expansion plans they negotiated with SMART. According to the County’s presentation, the first service expansions will utilize the current vehicle fleet & infrastructure available to SMART. Public outreach will be conducted as well to support the process.
The three local providers – WOTA, OPC, and NOTA – will benefit from extended operating hours, standardized fares, and new vehicle purchases, among other improvements.
The meat of the Oakland transit proposal is a set of new & extended routes, which could be running as early as this July. Here’s a summary of them:
- In Bloomfield Hills, there will be new local stops on Woodward Avenue, including a FAST stop near Long Lake Rd.
- Routes 305, 740 and 805 will all be extended by about 5 miles to serve Novi and Wixom.
- 851 will serve Orchard Lake, Sylvan Lake, and Keego Harbor commuters with a 3-mile extension.
- Route 790 in Pontiac and Auburn Hills will be modified to provide better coverage.
- Finally, two brand-new routes – 759 Highland-OU and 492 Rochester!
Positive progress for paratransit providers
In addition to new SMART routes, NOTA, OPC and WOTA will see major improvements in 2023 that will expand access and increase efficiency. Here’s a summary of the biggest changes:
- OPC will extend Mon-Fri operating hours from 8:15am-4:00pm to 7:00am-8:00pm. OPC also plans to increase its service footprint to cover more destinations.
- NOTA will hire and train additional staff, and improve the existing parking lot to accommodate new transit vehicles, fuel centers, and electric vehicle charging stations.
- WOTA will extend Mon-Fri hours of service from 6:00-9:00pm, standardize fares at $2 per stop, and make low-income residents eligible riders.
- Both WOTA and NOTA will hire mobile mechanics to keep more vehicles on the road at any time.
Help SMART improve service
Are you excited for these changes? We sure are at TRU! But, we still have some work to do.
SMART is still struggling to hire and retain enough drivers to operate its current schedule, in part because of noncompetitive wages. Buses aren’t showing up as scheduled, leaving riders in the dust. Without a reliable schedule, SMART will have difficulty introducing the new bus routes.
Please, urge SMART leaders to boost wages and solve the bus no-show crisis! Take a few minutes to send a letter to SMART today, and share this action alert with others. Also, if you’re interested in getting involved with our campaign to improve transit, just email email@example.com!