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Novi’s change of heart on regional transit signals shift in public perception

Mysid / Wikimedia Commons
In 1995, Novi opted out of the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART).


The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan is expected to make a final decision Thursday on whether it will let residents vote on the latest proposal to expand public transit in Southeast Michigan.

Barring a last minute change of heart from Oakland County leader L. Brooks Patterson and Macomb County's Mark Hackel, voters will likely not get the opportunity to weigh in.  

Meanwhile, Southeast Michigan continues to rank as one of the worst metro areas for public transit in the nation, which would come as no surprise for anyone who's had to use buses to get to Novi.

The suburb of Detroit is a prime example of the challenges of building a strong public transportation system in the region. 

Gwen Markham has served on the Novi City Council since 2013. She joined Stateside’s Cynthia Canty to discuss a renewed push for regional transit in the city.

In 1995, Novi opted out of the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART). According to Markham, the city was largely concerned with the economic viability of the program. 

“I think the final decision really turned on whether Novi was going to be able to retain senior transit money if they opted into SMART, and so they opted out. And we’ve never gone back and revisited the question at all,” Markham explained.

Twenty-three years later, the city has nearly doubled in size and the push for public transit is now regaining traction.

“People who have been there a long time didn’t really feel how fast and how big the city was growing. And so for many years, there's been this prevailing idea that, well, Novi doesn’t really need buses, and doesn’t really want buses, and we had to break through that,” Markham said. 

Listen above to hear the full conversation. 

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Sophie Sherry. 

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