Waterford says it doesn't have money to keep SMART buses running

A bus service that helps seniors and people with disabilities get around is in jeopardy.
There's no more funding.  The people who rely on that service - say losing it is not an option.  For roughly 600 seniors living in Waterford, the SMART bus provides reliable transportation for doctors’ appointments, and to the senior center for comfort and care.
But come June 30th the township board informed them Monday night, won't have the funds to keep the buses going. 

"We don't know what we are going to do," said Shawn Thrower.

For Thrower the consequences of losing bus service came as a shock. Her mother has Parkinson's disease and relies on the bus three times a week. She says news of the SMART bus running out money came out of nowhere.

"All of a sudden it was the first we had heard of it," she said. "All of a sudden it is like a bomb is being dropped on us."

She is not alone as FOX 2 saw at the township meeting. 

"It is not just for the seniors, it is respite care for our family members," said one woman.

"Without the bus she won't be able to go anywhere," said a man. "I am asking for a little compassion for the people that are in this room to support this system, please. So they can get the rides when they need to go."

Even the township clerk says they just found out about a $48,000 funding gap. 

"This was news to us too," said the clerk. "It was very short notice."

And one reason everyone was left in the dark may have to do with communication. Funding for the SMART bus comes from a number of places.  About $3 per ride, funding from the senior center, even the school district, which maintains school buses, chips in to keep the SMART buses operational. 

But the schools are taking a loss and by cutting funding, its falling on the township who says they simply don't have the money but they do have until June 30 to find it. 

The township supervisor says he hopes all the impassioned pleas he heard during the meeting will be echoed at the school board meeting on Thursday. He says the board is open to all ideas of keeping the bus service going.