Wayne County moves to expand public transit by ending opt-outs for communities

Wayne County's executive is laying the groundwork to expand public transportation to all communities within the municipality.

Warren Evans wants to remove the option of cities opting out of the region's public transit agency known as SMART. Currently, 16 cities in Wayne County voted to opt-out of the agency, which makes it difficult for residents to navigate from city to city.

According to a news release from the county, Evans is working with the state legislature to amend the current law. 

"While there is no simple solution here, each stakeholder at the table must be willing to look at all the options and agree to work collaboratively and in the best interest of their constituents. In all 43 Wayne County communities, residents deserve a quality transit system to meet their basic mobility needs," Evans said.

During the 2022 midterm election, Oakland County voted to end the opt-out option, which increased where public buses can travel through the county. The additional funding allowed buses to reach more rural communities in less populated areas of the county.

Wayne County hopes to do the same. Currently, the communities that don't pay into the SMART system are Belleville, Brownstown Township, Canton Township, Flat Rock, Gibraltar, Grosse Ile Township, Huron Township, Livonia, Northville, Northville Township, Plymouth, Plymouth Township, Rockwood, Sumpter Township, Van Buren Township, and Woodhaven.

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Detroit is also considered an opt-out community, and instead is serviced by its own transportation department.

"Many have acknowledged that transit is a major missing piece hindering population growth, and I wholeheartedly agree," Evans said. "An efficient people movement system that connects the region is vital for a real attempt at growth and continued attempts at retention of our current population."


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