Monday, October 17, 2011

SMART Bus Cuts Deepen Detroit Transit Crisis

Her bus odyssey may get even longer. Detroit News
Detroit's Deborah Lawrence may soon have to take five buses to get from home to work.

As the Detroit Department of Transportation bus system sputters, the metro region's suburban transit agency has announced its own massive cuts. 22 percent of SMART's service will go, 15 routes will be completely eliminated, and 120 employees would be laid off under the plan.

Lawrence already takes three buses - one Detroit bus and two SMART buses - to reach her job at a nursing home in Roseville. The cuts will scale back one of those SMART buses, the Detroit News reports, adding another two transfers to her commute.

SMART's shrinking schedule.
Another 10 routes will have Saturday or Sunday service eliminated, and 11 more will end at the Detroit city limits for some or all trips, leaving riders standing to transfer in the cold - or not, since Detroit's tattered buses haven't always been showing up lately.

SMART is trying to secure concessions from its unions, and the announcement should be seen in the context of that effort. The press release on the agency's website (newly revamped with stimulus funds) makes it clear who it's targeting with the news: "SMART Unions Fail to Reach Agreement; Service Cuts Required," it reads.

Whether or not the cuts take effect as proposed, given the sharp decline in property values in the region and SMART's dependence on a property tax millage, it's difficult to imagine that SMART service will be sustained absent the formation of a regional transit authority with a new source of funds.

The news is even worse when you consider how bad the existing service is already.

"Doesn't anybody get it?" Northville resident Robert Shoens asks in a letter to the Free Press. "Why should any company, small or large, open a business or keep one here when it cannot rely on its employees' ability to get to work?"

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel says, somewhat circuitously, of a regional transit authority: "Nobody doesn't agree it's necessary." Indeed, Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties, as well as the City of Detroit, have all passed resolutions in favor of it. There are just those little questions of governance and funding to be sorted out.

Bus riders have waited long enough for that to happen. Enough with the talk. We need a regional commitment now.

The Free Press says it well in an editorial today: "This is no  longer a question of politics...This is a question of survival."

11 comments:

  1. I don't know what the time consumption is for people that have no cars in relation to the time consumed waiting for and taking a bus, especially for the vast majority, but the minority too.

    However, I can't imagine it being trivial, especially the wait times. Especially for those spending at least a half an hour a day in wait times, are these people aware of their legal rights to ride a bicycle in the raod? It's becoming more of an attractive option with bike lanes and reduced population (and bus cuts are related I'm sure to at least soem degree to the latter). I would never wait 3 hours for a bus as mentioned in your previous article. At the very least, transfer use could be reduced by accessing a more direct route via bicycle. I would never have taken a bus without a bike and bike rack to put on a bus, the way I started in 2010. I still ask the question: Where and the heck do people become of such laws? Driver's training doesn't appear to stress it much. I am aware that not everyone is crazy nor will, even in such situations, but people may fall back on other options when their options start to run out.

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  2. Menat to say not everyone is crazy about riding a bike in the road.

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  3. Riding a bike on Detroits roads is crazy. I do it from time to time for short distances. Most days it's great. On many days you can see drivers cutting off people on bikes, berating them and acting dangerously around them. I've also seen quite a few riders breaking laws. No signaling, driving on the wrong side of the street, ignoring traffic lights. Drivers need to be much more courteous, everyone needs re education and police officers need to start ticketing cyclists that break the law.

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  4. We must be riding on different routes and different times. Saying that riding on the roads in Detroit is "crazy" seems like an exaggeration to me. My share of riding in the city is also perhaps less than yours depending on where you live, since I live about 15 miles away.

    I've taken to Jefferson, Woodward, Gratiot, Michigan Avenue, and other streets. Not so much ruding peak travel periods though, but I have from time to time.

    I'm curious what are some of the roads you ride on. I've never had anyone cut me off. I've had the occasional "get on the sidewalk" and had a plastic bottle thrown at me in the 4 years I've been riding, but my experience overall has been pleasant.

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  5. Senior citizens cant ride bikes. People are so out of touch with reality. It's sad

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  8. I just read through this posting and had to express gratitude personally. Very clear and succinct!

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  9. The smart bus cuts Detroit transit. Read to know more

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  10. Dave is a bit of an idiot. People who work low paying jobs in the suburbs but live in Detroit are not going to ride a bike to work. Never mind that such a ride might easily be 40 miles round trip, the weather in Michigan isn't conducive to bikes as a mode of transportation (unless you live and work in Downtown Ann Arbor or Royal Oak etc...) Also, Michigan drivers have absolutely no respect for bike riders. In fact I'd go so far as to say that the relationship could be accurately described as naked hatred.

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