Downtown Detroit, Michigan
|Service area||Metro Detroit counties of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb|
|Service type||bus service, paratransit|
|General Manager||Currently Vacant|
The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) is the public transit operator serving suburban Metro Detroit. It partners with the Detroit Department of Transportation. Beginning operations in 1967 as the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA), it operates 44 linehaul and three park-and-ride bus routes in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties. Its name was changed to SMART in 1989. As of 2008, SMART has the third highest ridership of Michigan's transit systems, surpassed by Capital Area Transportation Authority and Detroit Department of Transportation. SMART has its headquarters in the Buhl Building in Downtown Detroit.
Some of SMART's routes enter the City of Detroit and serve the Downtown and Midtown cores during "peak hours" (Weekdays, 6-9A.M. and 3-6P.M.). Elsewhere in Detroit city limits, a local ordinance bars passengers from being dropped off on outbound routes, or boarding on inbound routes. This is intended to avoid service duplication with Detroit Department of Transportation, which supplements the city of Detroit with its own bus service.
The Michigan Legislature passed the Metropolitan Transportation Authorities Act of 1967, which included the creation of Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA). SEMTA was charged to take over the ownership and operations of the fractured regional transit systems in Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne counties, including the city of Detroit.
The new authority acquired several suburban transit bus operations including Lake Shore Coach Lines (1971), Pontiac Municipal Transit Service (1973), Dearborn's Metropolitan Transit (1974), Birmingham's Great Lakes Transit (1974), and Royak Oak's Martin Lines (1975). However, the 1967 transportation act did not provide the regional authority with any means to levy taxes. By 1974, the Detroit Department of Street Railways (DSR) had been reorganized as a city department of Detroit, leaving SEMTA only coordination over the suburban services. That same year, SEMTA acquired a commuter train service between downtown Detroit and Pontiac from the Grand Trunk Western Railroad. Due to declining ridership and a lack of funding, the commuter rail service was discontinued in October 1983.
In 1979, SEMTA approved a regional transit plan, which included improved bus service and new rail transit, but the plan was never implemented due to lack of funds. The last commuter rail service was a former Penn Central route, named the Michigan Executive, that ran from the Michigan Central Depot in Detroit to Jackson. Its final operator was by Amtrak, as funded by the State of Michigan. The already pared down Executive service ended in 1984.
Beginning in 1983, SEMTA oversaw the construction of the Detroit People Mover, which was conceived as part of a much larger which consisted of light rail lines and a downtown subway. Mismanagement of the project resulted in tens-of-millions of dollars of cost overruns, causing the federal government to pull out of the project. In 1985, with the half-built project in limbo, the city of Detroit negotiated with SEMTA to take over the project, and it was transferred to the newly created Detroit Transportation Corporation.
With little interest in the suburbs for expanding mass transit and Detroit not interested in joining the system, SEMTA was restructured as SMART in 1989, reducing the authority's service area from seven counties to three and excluding the city of Detroit.
In October 2011, the authority cut 22% of its service and laid off 123 employees due to declining property values which fund the system through its millage, and the inability of the authority to reach an agreement with its unions. In January 2018, SMART began operation of its first major service expansion since the 2011 cuts to the system, adding three high frequency, limited-stop bus services branded FAST (Frequent Affordable Safe Transit) along Michigan, Woodward, and Gratiot avenues connecting downtown and Midtown to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Wayne County, Pontiac in Oakland County, and Chesterfield Township in Macomb County, respectively.
NOTE: all fares are free since mid-March 2020 up to further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The adult cash fare for fixed routes is US$2 or $0.5 for all others, which includes 4-hour pass, if needed. The fare for "park-and-ride" express routes is $2.5, and $1 for children 6-17, seniors, disabled/Medicare. SMART also offers 31-day passes for each of the above fare categories, and a regional monthly pass, permitting unlimited rides on both SMART and DDOT for $49.50. Kids below 3 feet 8 inches (112 cm) tall pay no fare with fare-paying rider; limit 3. When transferring to higher-cost service, the difference must be paid. A 24-Hour pass is $5 or $2 for all others; this includes the QLine & the Detroit People Mover.
On December 1, 2009, SMART raised its fares by $0.50. There was also a $0.50 charge added to regional monthly pass users and DDOT transfers. Fare increases were made to prevent possible cuts in bus services.
SEMTA Commuter Rail
The following routes were removed as part of the introduction of the FAST routes on January 1, 2018.
The following routes were removed as part of the service cuts made on December 12, 2011. The Groesbeck Shuttle still exists as a Connector service, but its early morning fixed route has been removed.
The following routes were removed prior to 2011 (removal date in parenthesis).