Big Win for Public Transit!


We always knew people support public transportation. But few of us expected how widespread the support is, once elected officials get out of the way! According to unofficial election results from the Nov 8 vote:

Oakland County expanded transit countywide for the first time ever with 57% support!

And Macomb County renewed SMART with a full 65% support!

Details below.

A huge thank you to everyone who made this possible!

Thank you to the volunteers who knocked doors and made calls.

Thank you to the donors who made our work possible.

Thank you to the partner groups who sent mailings and emails of support.

Thank you to the supporters who talked to friends and shared social media posts.

And most of all, thank you to the voters who recognized how essential transit funding is for our communities!

Together, we made this big win for public transit happen!!

How we did it? A broad-reaching, diverse, grassroots campaign!

First, this spring and summer, we mobilized hundreds of residents to speak out to County Commissioners in Oakland and Macomb Counties to put transit on the countywide ballot – setting the stage for this big win for public transit.

TRU Board member Kristen Milefchek explained to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners how hard it was to get around growing up in northern Oakland County without any transit options.

This summer and early fall, we focused on educating people about the value of transit. At 53 events across 20 communities, we talked with 3,000 people and mobilized more than 700 to get involved!

  • TRU hosted 10 events, including Transit Town Hall educational forums and Transit on Tap socials.
  • TRU made 25 presentations, including to Leadership Macomb, the Sterling Heights Chamber,
  • TRU tabled at 16 events, including Waterford Peacefest, Farmington Founders Fest, and Rochester Arts & Apples

Special thanks to Henry Ford Health Macomb, Macomb Community College, Disability Network of Eastern Michigan, and Beaumont Health for their partnership in our Transit Town Hall event series!

TRU will go anywhere and talk to anyone about the value of transit! Thomas found lots of transit interest at Peacefest in Waterford.

And over the past two months, it’s been all hands on deck to persuade voters to VOTE YES for transit! While we’re still adding up our numbers, we know:

  • TRU mobilized 28 organizations to support the campaign, including Sierra Club, Sterling Heights Chamber, and AFL-CIO.
  • TRU and partners distributed more than 18,000 pieces of campaign literature.
  • TRU shared pro-transit messages on social media more than 300,000 times.
  • TRU co-hosted 9 phone banks and 8 canvasses across Oakland and Macomb.
  • And we were in the media 20 times, including Crain’s Detroit Business, Oakland Press, Milford Times, Ortonville Citizen, WDET’s Detroit Today, C&G Newspapers, Macomb Daily, and Detroit Free Press.

Special thanks to Oakland Forward, MOSES, Fund Mi Future, Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, Sterling Heights Chamber, DSA, and so many other groups who got involved and helped spread the word in support to enable this big win for transit!

Partners like Oakland Forward knocked thousands of doors, ensuring voters were aware and supportive of the Oakland County Public Transportation Millage.

And all of that was made possible by 49 volunteers and 32 contributors supporting this important work! Thanks for making all this possible!

Despite many generous contributors, TRU spent $3,800 more on this campaign than we raised for it. Please donate now in recognition of all the great work our team achieved.

Note – all the work by TRU and our partners and volunteers was also supplemented by several separate ballot campaign efforts and by educational promotions from SMART and Oakland County. While not coordinated, these efforts multiplied to build broad support, which showed in the final big win for transit.

Macomb Summary: Renewed SMART with support in every community!

In 2018, Macomb County barely renewed the SMART millage, due to a widespread misleading anti-tax campaign.

That makes this year’s 65% yes vote extra exciting – and shows how important campaigns are! Throughout Macomb County, 228,800 voters said YES on transit; 120,600 said no. Not only was there more than 65% support in ALL of southern and much of central Macomb County, several northern communities, like Bruce, Harrison, Lenox, and Washington Townships also had over 60% support!

Clearly Macomb County recognizes the value of SMART transit!

Final millage results showed significantly wider support for transit investment than many people anticipated, especially in northern Macomb, Novi, and Rochester Hills. Special thanks to Steve Wiltse for translating the election results into this map.

Oakland Summary: 57% support to expanded transit countywide for the first time!

Thanks to this vote, Oakland County will expand transit countywide for the first time ever! No more opt-outs, no more patch-work system!

As expected, most southeast Oakland communities voted yes with more than 2/3 support, including in Lathrup Village, Pleasant Ridge, Oak Park, Center Line, Birmingham, Farmington, Hazel Park, Huntington Woods (82%!!), and Southfield.

Despite outspoken opposition from local elected officials in Auburn Hills, Novi, Rochester, and Rochester Hills, all four communities had major voter support:

  • Auburn Hills – 63% yes
  • Novi – 59% yes
  • Rochester City – 57.8% yes
  • Rochester Hills – 57.5% yes

Several other communities that had previously opted out also gave significant voter support for transit expansion:

  • Walled Lake – 56% yes
  • Wixom – 56%
  • Northville – 56%
  • Bloomfield Hills – 52% yes
  • Orion Township 50.7% yes

As expected, there was little support in Groveland, Rose, Highland, White Lake, Holly, and Springfield Townships, although even 24-42% of voters in those communities supported it. There also was notable support in Waterford at 49%, South Lyon at 48%, Oakland Township at 47%, and Clarkston at 43%.

The Impact?

This big win for transit means that not only will SMART continue to provide essential mobility services throughout Macomb County, transit will be expanded throughout Oakland County as well. The details of what services will be provided in which communities by what transit providers will be worked out over the coming months. Stay tuned for opportunities to share your ideas and suggestions during community input opportunities tbd.

Follow TRU to stay informed on all the opportunities to get involved and when new services will begin.