For decades, Oakland County has suffered from a Swiss cheese patchwork of transit service areas and gaps. Those days may finally be at an end!
The Oakland County Commission voted August 10 to place transit funding on the countywide ballot this November. A 10-year 0.95 countywide transit millage would fund the Connect Oakland plan (replacing the current SMART millage):
A Variety of Transit Services to Fit Oakland County’s Variety of Community Types
One size does NOT fit all. Nor will one type of transit service.
So the proposed Connect Oakland plan balances different transit services in different areas of the county:
- Paratransit – advanced reservation shuttles for seniors and people with disabilities
- Microtransit – Uber-like on-demand rides within certain zones
- Fixed route buses.
Fixed Bus Route Expansions!
In addition to renewing the nearly two dozen regularly scheduled bus routes SMART already operates (orange lines below), this plan would extend several of those routes into new areas and add several completely new routes (black lines).
These routes are proposed based on a careful analysis of:
- Population Densities
- Demographies with high transit needs, including large numbers of seniors, people with disabilities, and carless households
- Key Destinations including hospitals, colleges, and major employment centers.
Note – this is not set in stone and will not operate right away. These are some of the expanded and new transit lines that are likely to be developed over the next few years, still subject to public input. And they’re far from the only transit improvements planned:
New Microtransit Zones for On-Demand Uber-Type Rides
Large, pre-scheduled buses may move the most people, but they don’t work for all areas nor for all types of rides. So SMART has been piloting their Flex service, which in certain zones, anyone can use an app or call to request a ride. Within about 30 minutes, a van will pick you up and take you either to your destination (if its within the same zone) or to a fixed route bus stop, all for just $2.
This plan proposes to add several more (although I doubt it ends with these below gray areas):
Paratransit for ALL!
Last, but arguably the most important, is the paratransit expansion.
Paratransit is the call-ahead door-to-door service primarily for seniors and people with disabilities. Many parts of Oakland County have paratransit services now, but they’re all quite limited in their hours and their travel range. They’re run by four different agencies which all have different rules and rarely connect together. Some parts of Oakland County have NO transit at all!
This plan would provide major, long-term financial support to all four providers to enable them to substantially expand, improve, and coordinate their paratransit services together – without replacing or eliminating any:
- North Oakland Transit Authority (NOTA) – currently serving Oxford, Addison, and Orion Townships
- Western Oakland Transit Authority (WOTA)
- Older Person’s Commission (OPC) – serving Rochester, Rochester Hills, and Oakland Township
- SMART – serving most of south east Oakland County, as well as Macomb County and parts of Wayne County
The Oakland County Commission voted August 10 to place the 10-year 0.95 mil funding measure on the November ballot.
Voters will decide in November whether to support this investment so we can make this plan a reality.