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E-M:/ SMART Bus Millage Endorsed

News Release
Tuesday, July 30, 2002                                       More Information:

                                                                                                            Barry Malek, Transportation Riders United


Heather Northway, East Michigan Environmental Action Council


Carolyn Buell, League of Women Voters of

the Detroit Metropolitan Area



Groups Endorse SMART millage

Economy, road congestion, air quality cited


Transportation, environmental and public interest organizations today announced they are urging a yes vote on the August 6 ballot question that asks voters to approve funding to continue bus service in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.


Transportation Riders United (TRU), the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), East Michigan Environmental Action Council (EMEAC), Public Interest Research Group of Michigan (PIRGIM) and the League of Women Voters of the Detroit Metropolitan Area said in endorsing the millage that maintaining public transportation service is essential to the economic and environmental health of the region.


“I regularly ride the bus to work between the suburbs and city even though I own two cars. It’s much easier and costs far less than the stressful traffic, and parking,” said Barry Malek, TRU’s spokesperson and a Detroit bank official.  “But it’s the economy of Metro Detroit and the thousands of workers and their employers who rely on public transportation every day who would be most impacted if the buses stop running.”


The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) millage, or Proposal S on the Aug. 6 ballot, will ask voters in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to consider a 0.60-mill property tax increase for bus service. The amount includes the renewal of a 0.33-mill tax that has been levied since 1995 and an increase of 0.27 mill, which will be used to maintain current service levels in the wake of declining revenues from the state.


In endorsing Proposal S, the groups listed four points voters should consider:


·         The SMART bus system is a lifeline to southeastern Michigan’s economy.  Many of the 200,000 rides a week on SMART buses are taken by workers going to and from jobs.  SMART officials say defeat of Proposal S means bus service will end for many of those riders. 

·         The SMART bus system is a lifeline for the elderly, people with disabilities and youths who do not have the option of driving.

·         The SMART bus system keeps our air cleaner and our roads less congested by reducing the number of cars on our highways.

·         Maintaining the SMART bus system is an essential step in moving us forward to better regional transit.


"No one questions the need for public services such as police and fire departments, libraries, schools, and health care,” said Heather Northway, community organizer for EMEAC, an Oakland County-based group.  “Public transportation is just as vital to our communities.”


Carolyn Buell, President of the League of Women Voters of the Detroit Metropolitan Area, said the League has supported public transportation in the Detroit area for nearly 30 years.  “Supporting the SMART millage now is a positive step for the citizens of the region,” said Buell.  “The public must show that they are willing to fund public transportation now if we are ever to have a funded regional transportation system.”


Megan Owens, Field Director for PIRGIM, said passing the SMART millage is necessary if southeast Michigan is to continue to have transportation choices.    “SMART offers a critical option for many residents,” she said. 


MEC pointed out that SMART buses carrying thousands of workers each day reduce the number of vehicles on roads and freeways during peak driving times and bring down the level of air pollution.


“Voting to maintain public transportation is the smart choice if we want to reduce traffic congestion and continue economic growth in southeastern Michigan,” said Dusty Fancher, MEC’s transportation specialist.


The five groups endorsing today join a growing list of organizations supporting the SMART millage.  Others who have endorsed the millage include the Archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan Disability Rights Coalition, Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, MOSES, the Wayne, Macomb County and Oakland County boards of commissioners, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Metropolitan Affairs Council, SEMCOG, Hamtramck Environmental Action Team (HEAT), Groundwork for a Just World, and Coalition for Alternative Economic Education. 





Sent by:

David Holtz, Media Coordinator, Sierra Club