Michigan Advance Column: Investing in public transit is investing in people 

I grew up in a small-ish town, on a dirt road, close to a horse farm, tucked about an hour away from the Motor City. Most things in my life, from school to friends to work, were at minimum a 30-minute drive away. 

I knew I needed a car as soon as I was able to drive because public transportation surely wasn’t going down my pothole-stricken gravel road. Thankfully, my brother or my parents would let me borrow their car until I saved enough money to buy my own. But for a lot of people, owning or borrowing a car is not an option.

Public transportation is a lifeline for so many. It creates access to our basic necessities and offers a way for people to engage in their community in meaningful ways. From grocery stores to doctor’s offices, schools and parks, workplaces or places of worship, public transportation not only connects us to our community, it is an intentional way to care for our most vulnerable populations.  

The Detroit News: Norcia – Bus millage helps workers | Opinion

DTE Energy is a strong supporter of economic dynamism and workforce development, two issues linked inexorably in a region struggling to equip people for the modern workplace. That is why my company supports the independent efforts of leaders in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to pass public transportation millage proposals.

Without a functioning transportation system, people living in Metro Detroit can’t get to their jobs unless they own cars. For many of our neighbors, driving to work is not an option because they can’t afford a car, or they are too physically challenged to drive. Even for those who own automobiles, public transportation lets someone else do the driving, makes its affordable, safe and a reliable option that also conserves energy.

United Way for Southeastern Michigan endorses Public Transportation Millages in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb Counties 

Public transportation helps vulnerable residents and boosts the economy 

DETROIT – United Way for Southeastern Michigan has added its support to the public transportation millages in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties on the Nov. 8 ballot, recognizing that access to reliable public transportation is vital for workers, families, students and those who cannot afford the cost of owning a vehicle. 

“Quality public transportation is essential to the health, economic mobility and independence of so many in our region,” said Cassie Thierfelder, Director of Advocacy and Government Relations at United Way for Southeastern Michigan.”We’re advocating in support of these millages because transit is an essential part of an equitable, vibrant community and is especially important for families, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and so many of us by providing an accessible, cost-effective means of getting to work, school, doctors’ appointments and more.” 

United Way’s ALICE Report shows that 1 in 3 households in Southeastern Michigan can’t afford necessities like food, housing and health care. This figure is central to the organization’s support of increased access to public transit which is critical to ensuring that essential workers — many of them in households living below what the report identifies as a basic survival budget— can get to their jobs in hospitals, grocery and retail stores, childcare and nursing home facilities around our community. 

“Whether or not we are regular riders ourselves, we all depend on people who depend on transit,” said Thierfelder. 

The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) provides an estimated 10 million rides annually. Voting “Yes” on the Oakland County Public Transportation Millage will expand and maintain existing public transit services, including transportation provided by SMART, Western Oakland Transportation Authority (WOTA), North Oakland Transportation Authority (NOTA) and Older Persons Commission (OPC). Macomb and Wayne Counties’ Public Transportation Millages are renewals of existing services for SMART. 

“In addition to providing this much-needed service, we also know that public transit boosts our local economy by connecting customers with businesses and workers to jobs,” said Megan Thibos, Director of Economic Mobility Initiatives at United Way for Southeastern Michigan.   “United Way for Southeastern Michigan urges people to support this service and our communities by voting “Yes” on the Oakland, Wayne and Macomb County Public Transportation millages.” 

Research shows public transportation is an essential part of thriving communities, improving quality of life and boosting the local economy as every $1 invested in public transportation creates $4 in economic output by attracting new businesses and expanding the talent pool for local employers. 

Funding from both millages will be tracked publicly online to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and transparently, with 100 percent of funds generated staying in their respective counties and subject to annual independent audits to promote fiscal responsibility. 

To learn more about these critical public transportation millage proposals, please visit  UnitedWaySEM.org/VoteYesOnTransit.  

About United Way for Southeastern Michigan     

United Way for Southeastern Michigan, a member of the United Way Worldwide network and an independently governed 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, works to help households become stable and ensure children have the support they need to thrive. For more than 100 years, United Way has been a leader in creating positive, measurable, and sustainable change in communities throughout southeast Michigan. United Way works in partnership with donors, agencies, corporate and municipal partners to help families meet their basic needs of housing, food, health care and family finances, and ensure children start school ready to learn and graduate ready for life. To give, advocate, volunteer or learn more, visit UnitedWaySEM.org.      

Axios Detroit: Metro Detroit public transit voting guide

Voters throughout the region will see transit tax proposals on the Nov. 8 ballot.

Why it matters: Passage of the proposals is crucial to continued and expanded bus service throughout metro Detroit.

What’s happening: The Oakland County measure stands out. It would close gaps in service in places like Novi and Rochester, which affect riders traveling from Detroit, often for work.

The Voice: Chesterfield Township Board approves community transit contract

Community transit services will continue for now in Chesterfield Township, but a looming millage proposal could mean a “grim reality going forward,” Richmond Lenox EMS Chief Jeff White recently said.

The Chesterfield Township Board of Trustees on Sept. 27 unanimously approved a new yearly contract with Richmond Lenox EMS and SMART for transportation services, allocating roughly $105,000 in SMART municipal and community credits to the program. The funding is a portion of the $1.8 million collected by the township for SMART through the Macomb County public transportation millage and can only be used for public transportation.

The Voice

Axios Detroit: Exploring public transit in the Motor City

Underfunded, disconnected and unreliable — terms commonly used to describe a public transit system that must improve for Detroit to properly serve residents.

Driving the news: Axios Detroit is kicking off a transit feature digging into the many relevant issues facing users, government officials and taxpayers.

Why it matters: As the city strives to add population and improve services in neighborhoods where some residents feel left out of the recent revitalization, a robust and reliable transit system is crucial for Detroit to realize its full potential.

Axios Detroit

C&G News: SMART unveils first of new all-electric buses

On Sept. 22, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation unveiled the first of four new fully electric buses that will be going into service on the road this month throughout metro Detroit.

An unveiling was held for local officials at their Oakland County Terminal in Troy. Dwight Ferrell, the general manager of SMART, said it is the first step of plans to add numerous other fully electric vehicles to SMART’s fleet.

C & G News

The Arab American News: SMART announces new branding with new tagline, logo and mission

The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) has announced its “New SMART” campaign through various types of advertisements such as commercials and billboards throughout southeast Michigan.

Founded in 1967 as the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority, SMART is a regional transportation provider serving Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties with safe transportation.

SMART is now transitioning into a new look through different and unique branding in order to effectively highlight its goals, purpose and future plans.

The Arab American News