One of the two new SMART buses sits on display outside City Hall Feb. 20.

One of the two new SMART buses sits on display outside City Hall Feb. 20.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


New buses rolling around St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 2, 2018

 Federal and Michigan Department of Transportation funds helped pay for the new buses, as well as support and maintenance from SMART.

Federal and Michigan Department of Transportation funds helped pay for the new buses, as well as support and maintenance from SMART.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

 The buses will be able to transport seniors and special-needs children.

The buses will be able to transport seniors and special-needs children.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

ST. CLAIR SHORES — St. Clair Shores has two new community transit buses it can use for senior activities, the special-needs playground program and more, through an upgrade program offered through the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, or SMART. 

Fred Barbret, the Macomb community ombudsperson from SMART, told St. Clair Shores City Council members Feb. 20 that he had been working with the St. Clair Shores Senior Center for years to try to get it new buses. A grant used to purchase the two 28-passenger buses, each equipped with wheelchair lifts and two seats for wheelchairs, puts a priority on replacing aging vehicles. 

St. Clair Shores was able to replace two older-model Thomas vehicles through the SMART Community Partnership Program, Barbret said. The program, paid for with federal and Michigan Department of Transportation funds, includes operating funds and maintenance support as well, he said. 

The buses each cost $127,000, he said.

“Because we’re able to apply for that stuff, we can bring these (buses) back to a community like St. Clair Shores,” said Barbret. 

The city and SMART have been working to get these new buses for about three years, he added. The city already has four smaller buses through SMART.

Parks and Recreation Director Greg Esler said that both the senior program and the special-needs playground program will benefit from the new buses, which can be used for field trips and other services.

Mayor Kip Walby praised Barbret’s tenacity in working to get the new vehicles for St. Clair Shores. 

“You’ve been dedicated and disciplined to keep pushing for it,” he said at the Feb. 20 City Council meeting. “Many times it takes a lot of effort and to be dogged and never give up. It’s important to the city.”

“The fact that we can work and get these dollars leveraged is always a good thing for you,” said Robert Cramer, deputy general manager of SMART.