How to Support the Transit Millage: Talking Points and Data

Transit funding is on the ballot throughout all of Oakland and Macomb Counties. This page is designed to help anyone who wants to know more about this issue and ways to effectively communicate about it!

Key Messages

Vote YES on your County Public Transit Millage!

Tens of thousands of our neighbors depend on the SMART buses, Flex vans, and dial-a-ride senior shuttles.

Vote YES for County Transit to ensure seniors can stay independently in their own homes when they can no longer safely drive.

  • More than 1 in 5 Americans over 65 don’t drive. The senior population grew by a third over the past decade and will continue to grow to 24% of the population by mid-century.
    • More than 40% of seniors who don’t drive cannot do the things they want or need. (NADTC poll)
    • Family caregivers provide 1.4 billion rides a year to older Americans (AARP) but 28% of caregivers say driving care recipients feels “overwhelming” (NADTC poll)
    • Seniors who don’t drive make 15% fewer trips to the doctor, 59% fewer trips to shop or eat out, and 65% fewer trips to visit friends and family than drivers of the same age (Aging Americans study)
    • 33% of seniors who don’t drive feel “isolated” and “trapped” (NADTC poll)

Vote YES for County Transit so working families can thrive despite the high and unpredictable costs of cars, repairs, gas, and insurance.

  • Workers who have access to reliable and efficient public transit spend 7% less of their budget on transportation (AARP)
    • The poorest fifth of Americans spend 42% of their take-home pay on auto transportation!
    • Families in the metro Detroit region spend 24% of their household income on transportation (cars/repairs/gas/insurance), while families in transit-rich areas spend just 15%.
    • Oakland County households spend on average $13,400 a year driving. Macomb County households spend on average $13,500 a year on driving. (H+T)
    • A family who can eliminate one car can save more than $8,000 a year!

Vote YES for County Transit so people with disabilities can be full contributors to our society despite not driving.

  • Transportation is the single most reported problem for people with disabilities (State of Transportation).
    • More than 80% of nondrivers with disabilities cannot do the activities or chores they want or need to do because they don’t drive (NADTC poll)
    • 55% of people with disabilities who don’t drive feel “isolated” and “trapped” (NADTC poll)
    • A lack of transportation is one of the main reasons only 18% of people with disabilities are employed, compared to 65% of the rest of the population (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017)

Vote YES for County Transit because small businesses need reliable workers who can work even if their car breaks down.

  • Half of small business owners (50%) say it’s gotten harder to find qualified people to hire. Almost one-third have open positions they’ve been unable to fill for at least three months.
    • SMART bus routes provide access to more than 67,000 businesses and 850,000 jobs (SMART)
    • Approximately 2 million people live within a ¼ mile radius of a SMART bus route (SMART)
    • SMART bus riders utilize the service for daily activities, with 71% using SMART to get to work. (SMART)

Vote YES for County Transit to slow the climate crisis by giving people convenient low-pollution alternatives to driving.

  • Transportation is the largest source of climate pollution, with personal driving the leading cause.
    • Transportation emissions are not declining even as fuel efficiency improves because people are driving further each year to access their needs.
    • Diesel buses at average occupancy produce 33% less greenhouse gas emissions than personal driving.
    • By leaving the car at home, a person can save up to 20 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every day.

Vote YES for County Transit so we can have vibrant successful communities where everyone can access their choice of jobs, schools, shops, and more!

If the County Transit millages fail, nearly all transit in these counties will stop operating, leaving tens of thousands of people stranded!

Public Transit Keeps Our Community Moving

Some of us ride public transit. All of us need it. We all depend on the essential workers who depend on transit buses. We all invest in fire departments, whether or not our house is on fire.

Transportation is freedom; public transit is essential to help people get to their choice of schools and jobs. With volatile gas prices, our communities need transit now more than ever before.

A Great Investment for our Communities

On the ballot is a roughly one-mill property tax, which will cost the average family less than $10/month. (Calculation: The millage rate on the ballot is 0.95 – so $0.95 per $1,000 of a home’s taxable value, which is usually half of the total value. The average home is valued at $250,000 so would have a taxable value of $125,000 and pay $118 per year, or $9.90 per month.)

In Macomb County, southeast Oakland County, and parts of Wayne County, this is not a new tax, but a renewal of an existing tax at a slightly lower rate.

The Oakland County proposal also extends the tax across Oakland County for the first time, to places like Novi and Rochester Hills, that currently lack adequate transit.

Oakland specific messaging

  • Connect Oakland will strengthen and expand mobility options for all of Oakland County.
  • Oakland County has developed a unique county-centric way to build on the success of local transit providers with the long-term funding they need to improve, expand, and meet the growing needs of an aging population
    • The Connect Oakland plan will provide sustainable funding to rural transit providers so they can continue, improve, and expand the local rides they provide.
    • This will continue Oakland County’s SMART service and extend routes into new areas, like Rochester and Novi.
  • Provide a seamless transit network that eliminates gaps and inefficiencies, because our lives don’t end at our town’s border
With questions or for more information, contact MOwens@DetroitTransit.org.