COVID-19 prompts SMART to cut fixed bus routes 30%

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Detroit — Metro Detroit’s suburban bus system said it is reducing service because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials for the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, or SMART, said the changes will be effective Monday. It is reducing its routes by about 30 percent.

A SMART bus travels along Main Street near 11 Mile  in Royal Oak on Friday.

The move comes about two day after the bus system instituted free fares on all services and rear boarding/deboarding policy to limit the exposure for both drivers and riders.  

”In these unprecedented times, SMART plays a critical role in both getting people who have to get where they need to go while also doing our part to limit the spread of the virus,” Robert Cramer, the authority's deputy general manager, said in a statement. “The dedication of our drivers, mechanics and support staff in these difficult times has been nothing short of amazing.”

Information on the changes are available on the authority's website. The hours of service will be similar to weekday routes, but the frequency will be lower. Many routes will be based on current Saturday or weekday schedules.

Officials said ridership on SMART's buses has fallen 60 percent as more passengers work from home and businesses and public facilities close.

SMART has operated as the region's only public transportation provider since 1967. The authority is governed by a board of directors comprised of representatives from Macomb, Monroe, Oakland and Wayne counties.

It has about 800 employees and a total of 726 vehicles, including fixed-route buses and community transit providers. About 29,000 riders use SMART buses on the average weekday.

Twitter: @CharlesERamirez