The suburban Detroit transit authority, SMART, is inaugurating three Express routes, with stops every 1-2 miles apart. Starting January 1, 2018, they are planned to radiate from downtown Detroit on Gratiot, Woodward, and Michigan Avenues.
If you're at all familiar with the Southeast Michigan RTA's plans, this will sound eerily reminiscent of both the RefleX service running now on Woodward and Gratiot, and the mandate handed down to the RTA from the State Legislature, to establish "rolling rapid transit" on those same three corridors.
Currently, SMART operates RefleX service on Gratiot out to Mount Clemens, while DDOT operates RefleX on Woodward as far as Somerset Mall. The RTA established these two as a foretaste of "rolling rapid transit" - which was the Legislature's way of saying Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) without uttering that distateful word, BUS. Unfortunately, the RTA found only enough funds to run RefleX every 45-50 minutes, but I'm told they're fairly well used despite their infrequent appearance.
SMART's service will run nuch more frequently. On Woodward and Gratiot, it will operate every 10 minutes during peak periods, every 20 off-peak, from about 5 AM to 1 AM. Excellent frequency and span of service! The Gratiot route will go to Mount Clemens, then split with alternate buses serving two park-and-ride lots; the Woodward route will split at Big Beaver, every other bus going either to Troy Civic Center or Pontiac Phoenix Center.
The Michigan Avenue service will go to Detroit Metro Airport, calling at both Macnamara and North Terminals. Span of service will be the same excellent 5-1 as on Gratiot and Woodward, but unfortunately it will only operate at 30 minute intervals during peak periods, and hourly off-peak.
Schedules for these new routes are not public, probably because they haven't been finalized yet. I'm told to expect the runs to be 10-20% faster than local buses, though that may be a conservative estimate. We'll see.
This is really significant. For the first time, we can take a bus from DTW to downtown Detroit, going fairly rapidly and directly. Obviously this will be much slower than the airport service to Ann Arbor, which does not stop for passengers at all between the airport and downtown Ann Arbor.
However, the combination of these services is awesome, especially considering the fare policy: same as local, $2.00, and transfers are valid to other SMART and DDOT buses. That means that for $2.00 you can get from the airport all the way to Mount Clemens, Pontiac, or Troy. It may be slower than an airport limo, but the cost really makes it worthwhile.
My hat is off to the folks at SMART!
To learn more:
- SMART's Website