Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Farmington Hills and The Possibility of Opting Out of SMART

I broke my own rule last night and wrote to local politicians in the hopes of affecting policy. In the interest of keeping myself honest here is a copy of the email I wrote.

Hello. I’m Greg Miles, Jr. and am a resident of Southfield. Recently I received an email regarding the possibility of Farmington Hills opting out of SMART. The email stated that many of the routes that serve my community such as the 400,405 and 740 would be eliminated if Farmington Hills decided to opt out of SMART. The point I suppose I am making is that this decision does not only affect Farmington Hills but also other communities. I respect that supporting the program costs a lot of money and that you must look after the best interests of your constituency, but a regional transportation system is regional. Your decision affects several other communities. While SMART is not perfect it is the only mass transit system I can think of that currently does what it does. If these routes are eliminated there are several people including myself who would be left in the lurch.

Some say that the abandonment of SMART would allow for a better option to be created. However, what are people suppose to do while that option is being created? While not impossible, I doubt that even a local municipal system could be arranged in less than the time before service would be halted. As for a state sponsored regional transit system, again I doubt that it could happen. We are currently in a climate of “cut, cut, cut”. Especially after the debacles of the Detroit light rail program, I realize that such a project is incredibly ambitious and unlikely to come to fruition anytime soon.

Many of the criticisms of SMART point to cuts in service and while I do agree that quality of service has declined I also understand that much of the money SMART uses comes from a mileage. Just like municipal governments SMART is taking in less money overall due to the collapse of the housing market. I honestly believe they are doing the best they can with the resources at their disposal.

As for arguments that the service isn’t being used, I don’t have the numbers. All I can say is that first impressions can be misleading. Just like roads there is more traffic at certain times of the day. The busses seem packed around 5 in the evening and empty at noon.

In general, I fear that if communities continue to opt out of the program the only regional mass transit system we have, as inefficient as it, is will collapse and the people will be left with nothing but empty promises. Again I understand that the choice is yours and you will do what you feel is right, but I just ask that you keep in mind that this decision affects more than just Farmington Hills.

Thank You
Greg Miles, Jr.

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