Will SMART Plan “Revolutionize” Transit, or Marginalize the RTA?

In a 30-second commercial (above) recently aired on local television, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, seen watching a horse race with Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel at the Hazel Park Raceway, claims that the proposed expansion of express SMART bus service will “revolutionize mass transit as we know it in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb County.”

The ad concludes with the tagline “SMART: Ride the Excitement.”

Under this proposal, spelled out in more detail on the SMART website, SMART, the Detroit metro area’s suburban bus system, will take over and expand the Regional Transit Authority’s “Reflex” express bus service along Woodward and Gratiot, while adding a new Michigan Avenue line to Detroit Metro Airport. Operated by SMART and DDOT, that Reflex service was inaugurated by the Regional Transit Authority last year in an attempt to make the case for its four-county regional transit proposal.

That proposal would have expanded SMART and DDOT service and created bus rapid transit lines on Woodward, Gratiot, and Michigan. But it lost by a hair at the ballot box after Patterson and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel refused to endorse it, and almost blocked it from making it to the ballot.

In the short term, the SMART proposal is good news for many riders along Woodward, Gratiot and Michigan, who’ll benefit from express service every 15 or 20 minutes during rush hour.

Unfortunately, Patterson and Hackel’s framing of the proposal indicates they may use it as an excuse to shut the door on talk of another RTA transit proposal in 2018. Continue reading “Will SMART Plan “Revolutionize” Transit, or Marginalize the RTA?”

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