SMART’s new FAST program will create limited-stop routes down Woodward, Gratiot and Michigan avenues.

SMART’s new FAST program will create limited-stop routes down Woodward, Gratiot and Michigan avenues.

Photo provided by Lacee Shepard


SMART implements three ‘FAST’ routes to help metro area travel

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published January 4, 2018

 The FAST program, designed to transport people between Detroit and the suburbs more quickly, began service Jan. 1.

The FAST program, designed to transport people between Detroit and the suburbs more quickly, began service Jan. 1.

Photo provided by Lacee Shepard

DETROIT — Metro Detroit residents can start the new year with more transportation options offered by SMART, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation.

Dubbed the Frequent Affordable Safe Transit program, SMART has opened up three new limited-stop bus lines along Woodward, Michigan and Gratiot avenues.

“FAST is a high-frequency, limited-stop service that will provide residents with a quick access between the suburbs and the city down Gratiot, Woodward and Michigan Avenue,” said Beth Gibbons, a spokesperson for SMART. “The Michigan Avenue line is particularly helpful because it also will include service to the airport.”

Being a limited-stop line means there will be fewer stops along each route, but this means riders will be able to ride the line across longer distances more quickly. The fare for FAST lines is the same as SMART’s regular service — $2 for a one-way trip, with transfers for 25 cents.  

The Gratiot line will include stops near Waterside Marketplace in Chesterfield Township, Macomb Mall in Roseville and City Airport; the Woodward line will include stops at Wayne State University, downtown Ferndale and downtown Birmingham; while the Michigan line will include stops in downtown Dearborn, the Dearborn train station and Metro Airport.

The new routes were put in place due to SMART having more funds after completing its last major project in 2017, which was a large-scale replacement of its aging fleet.

“In 2014, SMART had promised to replace our aging fleet, since most of our buses had 500,000 miles on them or more. We have since replaced our fleet, and the funds are now available to implement a new service,” explained Gibbons. “These are high-density corridors that provide great access in and out of the city, and we felt this was the best way to serve the region.”

Serving residents since 1967, SMART is southeast Michigan’s only regional public transportation provider, offering public transportation services for Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. The FAST program was implemented to allow better access into and out of Detroit on a regular and dependable basis.

“The new routes started running on Jan. 1,” said Gibbons. “On Gratiot and Woodward, the service operates from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m., with high-frequency stops every 15 minutes between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. On Michigan Avenue, it operates from 5 a.m. to midnight and has buses every 30 minutes.”

FAST was something SMART had been talking about since the spring of 2017. It was discussed and approved by the SMART Board of Directors in November.

“We hope the new express service will provide better connectivity across the region.” said Melissa Roy, who is a board member with SMART. “This helps current riders and showcases transit opportunities for new riders. SMART covers a large service area with a variety of transit needs. We like to make sure that we’re serving those needs.” 

Previous services along these corridors have been tweaked by SMART, but most previous services will remain.

“We had several routes that previously serviced each corridor. We made some adjustments to each route,” said Gibbons. “We are streamlining service along each of these corridors so (riders) have options between the limited-stop FAST service or more local routes.”

The buses functioning on the FAST lines were designed with a different appearance from the rest of the SMART fleet so that riders will know they will be getting on a bus making limited stops.

“They will have a distinct color scheme,” said Gibbons. 

Those interested in the FAST program can go to www.smartbus.org to see schedules and find more information.

SMART officials have no estimates for how many people these new routes will service, or how many more people may use the buses, but they do expect an increase in ridership. They say these new routes should provide a valuable service for people all around the Detroit area.

“This will improve life for metro Detroit residents by offering a new express service, direct service to the airport and better regional connectivity,” said Roy.

“With the high-frequency routes, it should be highly convenient,” added Gibbons. “They can park along the corridor and avoid the hassle of traffic going in and out of Detroit and avoid high parking fees in the city. It’s a convenient and affordable service. We operate during the day, night and weekend. The first two weeks are free so people can give it a try.”