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Proposed SMART Bus Service Cuts Dig Into Farmington, Hills

The Orchard Lake route, which provides service to Oakland Community College and other stops, may be eliminated.

A SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation) bus route that serves Farmington Hills and Farmington from Orchard Lake Road and 12 Mile to on Eight Mile Rd. is on the chopping block as the regional transportation authority looks at making deep service cuts.

Weekday and Saturday hours on Orchard Lake Route 385, including service to campus between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., is on the list of cuts published on the SMART website. The line does not run on Sunday.

Stops also include Farmington and Eight Mile, Grand River and Farmington, Orchard Lake and Grand River and 10 Mile and Orchard Lake. A second line (851) provides service on Orchard Lake from West Bloomfield to OCC, then east on I-696. Other routes serving the community on 12 Mile Rd. (740), 11 Mile Rd. (400) and Grand River/M-5 from Haggerty east, including a short stretch of 10 Mile Rd. (305/330/805), will not be affected.

Farmington and Farmington Hills have remained "opt in" communities with SMART. The system allows cities to choose whether or not they participate.

According to a release published on the authority's website, SMART and union employees represented by Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), United Auto Workers (UAW), American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Teamsters, have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2010. In addition to fare increases, SMART has cut spending by $11 million over the past three years, to make up for declining property tax and fare revenues.

The release explained that SMART and DDOT (Detroit Department of Transportation) are considered one entity when it comes to state and federal dollars, and DDOT cuts in service have also affected those funds for SMART.

Public hearings will be held on the proposed changes on Nov. 3, 4 p.m.-7 p.m. at the City of Dearborn Ford Community & Performing Arts Center, 15801 Michigan Avenue, Club Room #1; Nov. 7, 4 p.m.-7 p.m. at the City of Pleasant Ridge Community Center, 4 Ridge Rd.; and Nov. 9 at the City of Roseville Council Chambers, 29777 Gratiot Ave. Written comments will be accepted through Nov. 10; send them to SMART Administrative Offices, 535 Griswold Street, Suite 600, Detroit, MI 48226; or via email to publichearing@smartbus.org.

This is a developing story.

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