Should bus services stop? Macomb Township looking to opt out of SMART

Posted at 8:08 PM, Mar 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-11 20:08:05-05

MACOMB TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WXYZ) — Smart buses have been driving people around metro Detroit since 1967. But in recent years a growing number of communities are deciding to stop the bus, permanently.

As of right now, 17 municipalities in Wayne County don’t have the service and that number jumps to 34 in Oakland. Everywhere in Macomb County pays for the public transportation service, but some officials could be looking to change that.

“Voters and people are frustrated when they are paying for something they don’t think they are getting services for,” says Leon Drolet the Macomb Township Treasurer.

According to Drolet, the Township pays more for SMART bus services then they do on the roads. In the past year, he says the Township spent 3.8 million dollars on the buses, and has little to show for it.

“We don’t even have a bus stop in Macomb Township.”

According to the SMART system map. There is only one potential stop in Macomb Township.

“Have you ever used the bus service here? No. Do you know anyone in the community who has? No. Do you know where the bus stop is in this township? No actually I don’t.” says Rory Kruea whose lived in the area for two years.

John Fields on the other hand says he uses the bus to get to work five days a week. He admits he is usually the only one on board, but to him the service is essential.

In December the SMART BUS tax will expire and Macomb County as a whole will vote on if they should renew it. In 2018, the mileage passed with less than 50 votes. Meaning the entire county was close to losing all SMART bus services something Anthony Nunnally whose been a driver for 6 years says would be disastrous.

“It's a lifeline to some people. We serve people who go to dialysis, seniors, students people who go to work,” says Nunnally.

The Macomb County Board of trustees is now pushing for each municipality in Macomb County to vote on whether or not they pay for the bus service, similar to Wayne and Oakland. But that decision is up to the Board of Commissioners. 7 Action News reached out for comment but did not hear back.