Auburn Hills, MI – Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) may be forced to discontinue service within the suburb of Auburn Hills, Michigan.
The Auburn Hills City Council will vote at their meeting this Monday night on a resolution that will allow them to opt out of SMART. The city is asking voters to fund a transit service to be used only by seniors and people with disabilities, thus shutting down transit service for able-bodied people under 60 within the city.
Auburn Hills City Council members say that the proposed service would be cheaper for the city and for its taxpayers than continuing its agreement with SMART.
Many Auburn Hills residents support the SMART bus system, with 74% of the city’s voters renewing a millage to fund SMART in 2018. While a vote from residents is required to opt into and renew SMART millages, all it takes is a vote from City Council to opt out.
Auburn Hills is served by three different fixed routes: the express 462 FAST Woodward, connecting Great Lakes Crossing and nearby big-box stores to Pontiac, downtown Detroit and communities in between; the 790 Pontiac Crosstown, which serves Oakland University, an Oakland Community College campus, Stellantis’ North American headquarters, and downtown Auburn Hills; and the 796 Perry-Opdyke, serving hotels in the city’s west central side.
At Great Lakes Crossing, 462 passengers can transfer to an express service operated by the Flint Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) that connects the mall to nearby Flint. The 790 and the 796 connect at an Amazon facility west of Auburn Hills within Pontiac, and from there, the routes connect with multiple Pontiac destinations.
Auburn Hills is also served by SMART Flex, a microtransit service akin to ride-hailing services that is operated in conjunction with Via, and also provides service within Pontiac (in addition to separate services in Dearborn/Allen Park/Taylor, Troy, and the Hall Road corridor between Utica and New Baltimore). Since Flex started serving Auburn Hills and Pontiac in August 2021, the zone has provided over 8,200 rides, with an approximately 30% increase in rides since November 2021.
A SMART opt-out will result in the loss of service from the three fixed routes mentioned above as well as from Flex. Not only will Auburn Hills’ dignity take a huge hit, SMART service will become even more fragmented, and the Flint MTA will lose its only connection to Southeast Michigan transit services.
The Auburn Hills City Council meeting will take place in person (and only in person as of writing) at Auburn Hills City Hall, 1827 North Squirrel Road in Auburn Hills, Michigan, starting at 7 PM on Monday, February 21, 2022.