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'Wildly Popular' Dial-A-Ride Service Outstrips Projections

Farmington city council members learned Monday that the service, launched two years ago, provides about 1,800 rides each month.

SMART has no plans for additional Farmington area bus service cuts, a representative said Monday. Photo credit: Patch file photo
SMART has no plans for additional Farmington area bus service cuts, a representative said Monday. Photo credit: Patch file photo
After SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation) launched its dial-a-ride program in 2012, officials thought the service might generate 4,400 rides a year. 

Turns out, they underestimated, by quite a bit. 

SMART Oakland County ombudsman Steven Brown told Farmington city council members Tuesday the service generated 1,800 rides each month, around 21,000 in a year. 

"We're very excited about the reception of the service," Brown said. "It has been wildly popular, in my estimation." 

Brown said the elimination of a taxi service in Farmington Hills helped drive demand for dial-a-ride, which provides door-to-door bus service with about an hour's notice. SMART's advance reservation service, which requires several days' notice, is a little less popular, with 80 rides per month in Farmington. 

Officials in Farmington and Farmington Hills drove development of the dial-a-ride service, after SMART cut bus routes in 2011. Monday night's discussion was a far cry from contentious conversations over SMART service two years ago, when Farmington officials first voted to opt out of the system, then reversed their vote a few weeks later.

Farmington and Farmington Hills councils both face another SMART decision this month. If the communities remain in the system, voters will decide in August whether to renew a .59 mill levy that helps fund the service, Brown said. 

He added that SMART has no plans to cut any Farmington-area bus routes, although reductions are always a possibility and depend on demand for the service. 

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