The Metro: Wayne County Executive Warren Evans wants to end SMART bus opt-outs

Evans wants to end the ability to opt-out of SMART in order to create an effective and efficient regional transit option.

Photo of SMART public bus

A photo of a SMART bus.

Among the tri-county area in metro Detroit, Wayne County is the only one that allows its communities to opt out of SMART bus services — though that may change.  

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans is pushing legislators to amend state law that allows local municipalities to opt-out from SMART bus service. That could be significant because there are currently 16 Wayne County cities that do not have a property tax millage to support SMART services.  

Why is Evans pushing to expand SMART? How does he hope to accomplish his goal, and what might the consequences be if he succeeds?

Evans joined The Metro to answer these questions.

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The Wayne County Executive wants to end the ability to opt-out of SMART in order to create an effective and efficient regional transit option.

“We need to have regional transit opportunities for people and we don’t now when you have opt-out communities,” Evans said.

“And it allows us to create transportation options that we obviously couldn’t do if we had to avoid certain cities or going around certain cities or townships. I think it’s really hard to argue that you can make progress with regional transit while you have communities opting out — either we’re a region, which means a team, or we aren’t,” stated Evans.

While counties like Macomb and Oakland have opted in for the SMART bus services, many other communities are still resisting this regional transit system because they believe it will increase taxes.

“We in society spend a lot of money and do a lot of talk about workforce development and the importance of it…what we don’t take into consideration is the mobility of people to be able to get to that training,” Evans explained.

Evans is currently working towards getting the County Board of Commissioners to put this issue on the ballot to give voters the final say.

More headlines from The Metro for June 13, 2024:

  • June is Men’s Health Month. Both physical or mental pain often go unsaid or unnoticed when it comes to men. A 2022 Cleveland Clinic survey of 1,000 men found that 55% do not regularly get health screenings. Men of color are less likely to see the doctor and 63% reported not doing routine visits. Dr. Issac Powell, a professor of Urology at Wayne State University, encourages men to regularly get checkups.
  • Would you believe that home prices in Detroit right now are well above historic norms? At first glance, this might seem in line with national trends; home sales dropped to their lowest level in nearly 3 decades in 2023. But while this trend is showing signs of reversal with home prices falling  in nearly half of U.S. states last month, local home buyers aren’t seeing this relief. To answer these questions and more, Ken Johnson, Associate Dean of Graduate Programs at Florida Atlantic University and one of the authors behind the study joined The Metro.
  • This is the Motor City, but not everyone has access to a motor vehicle. In fact, one-third of Detroit residents don’t own a car. The city’s Office of Mobility Innovation, the Michigan Mobility Collaborative, along with May Mobility, is launching a free autonomous vehicle shuttle for residents 62 and older and/or living with a disability. The Accessibili-D autonomous shuttle service will begin service on June 20 and run through 2025. Tim Slusser from the city of Detroit’s Office Of Mobility Innovation shared more information on the service.

Listen to The Metro weekdays from 11 a.m. to noon ET on 101.9 FM and streaming on-demand.

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