Pontiac, MI - Oakland County residents will see transit services expand later this year now that the Board of Commissioners has approved contracts with four public transportation providers - SMART, North Oakland Transportation Authority (NOTA), Western Oakland Transportation Authority (WOTA), and the Older Persons' Commission (OPC) – under the countywide transportation millage approved by voters last November.
NOTA, WOTA, and OPC will increase their hours of operation, add more destinations, and standardize fares at $2 per ride in their service areas. SMART will explore service expansions in Auburn Hills, Bloomfield Hills, Farmington Hills, Keego Harbor, Novi, Orchard Lake, Pontiac, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Sylvan Lake, Troy, Waterford, West Bloomfield, White Lake, and Wixom.
"It's fantastic to see the beginning of the expansion of public transportation across Oakland County moving forward," said Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter. "Accessible and reliable public transportation is a critical necessity for our residents, our businesses and communities and our economy."
County commissioners also voted Thursday night to create a $500,000 local transit reimbursement program. Communities that have a current contract or have already budgeted for public transportation services provided between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of this year may submit semi-annual reimbursement requests with performance reports detailing ridership, services provided, and expenditures.
"These initial transit contracts are a big deal," said David T. Woodward, (D-Royal Oak), chairman of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. "This is Oakland County's greatest investment in public transportation ever. It's a bold first step, which keeps our promises, expands service, and creates new routes. We're on roll, and we won't stop until we have better transit that's accessible to all."
Pending the SMART Board of Director's approval of the Oakland County Transit Contract and the required public hearing processes necessary for route changes and expansions, SMART proposed service expansions include:
- Novi, Farmington Hills, and Wixom by extending route 305 along Grand River, route 740 on 12 Mile Road, and route 805 west from Farmington Hills to Novi
- Auburn Hills, Pontiac, Waterford, and White Lake by creating new fixed route 759 along M-59
- Troy, Rochester Hills, Rochester, and Auburn Hills by creating new fixed route 492 on Rochester Road and Walton Boulevard
- Bloomfield Hills by providing fixed route service along Woodward and adding stops in northbound and southbound lanes
- West Bloomfield, Orchard Lake, Keego Harbor, and Sylvan Lake by extending route 851 to the north on Orchard Lake Road
- Auburn Hills and Pontiac by modifying route 790 to better serve both communities
All fixed route expansion routes will provide Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransit service.
"SMART is looking forward to working with Oakland County and all stakeholders on developing a long-term plan to expand and improve access to transit services in the county and the region," said Dwight Ferrell, general manager of SMART. "Our main job is to ensure people can get to the places they need and want to go. The next critical step is to conduct an extensive public engagement effort to understand the needs in the community that will help drive us toward transit solutions that work for everyone to ride."
The planning process to determine future public transportation needs in Oakland County will include public engagement with residents, businesses, and local officials; survey infrastructure needs and state and federal grant opportunities, and analyze market trends, transportation patterns, and costs and efficiencies. To learn more, go to oakgov.com/OaklandTransit.
Of the $68.2 million Oakland County Transit Millage, SMART will receive $41.7 million, WOTA more than $3.4 million, NOTA more than $2.8 million, and OPC more than $1.9 million.