Detroit, MI, October 13, 2011 – Despite the universally-recognized record drops in southeast Michigan’s property values and the resulting loss in tax revenues, unions representing over 800 employees at the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) have failed to reach concession agreements. The unions, 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 December 31, 2010.
Throughout the long recession, SMART has worked to maintain the existing bus service. SMART management has instituted $11 million in budget adjustments over the past three years, including a fare increase. However, revenue continues to drop due to lower millage collections and reduced state and federal funding, while at the same time, fuel and healthcare costs have increased.
SMART is supported by local property taxes, farebox proceeds and state and federal funding. The biggest loss in revenue has resulted from the drop in property values: a 24 percent decrease since 2009; with an 11percent decrease in millage revenue this year alone. To add to the financial woes, SMART will receive less state and federal funding because of the cuts in service made by the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT). While all other Michigan transit agencies are funded independently of each other using uniform formulas, Michigan’s Act 204 treats SMART and DDOT as one entity for funding purposes. This means any cuts made by DDOT reduce state and federal funding available to SMART. This year DDOT has implemented two rounds of service cuts, in June and September, thereby causing more revenue loss to SMART.
Since November 2010, SMART has been in negotiations with each union. After nine months of negotiating, no agreements have been reached. SMART’s non-represented employees have already taken wage reductions and other benefit concessions. Without the union participation in wage and benefit concessions, SMART is now forced to cut bus services by
Public hearings have been scheduled for the first week of November with the proposed service changes occurring in December. Proposed cuts in service include either route modifications or the elimination of entire routes on weekdays, Saturday and Sunday. As part of the proposed service cuts, 123 employees will be laid off. Specific information regarding proposed service changes can be found on the SMART website at smartbus.org.
SMART is southeast Michigan’s only regional transit system, serving Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties. SMART provides 40,000 daily rides and serves one million seniors and people with disabilities annually. For more information, go to www.smartbus.org
or call Customer Information at 866-962-5515.
For information on the Public Hearings, click here