A city of Novi Senior Transportation van sits outside the Meadowbrook Medical Center. Novi Senior Transportation will be disbanded after May 31.

A city of Novi Senior Transportation van sits outside the Meadowbrook Medical Center. Novi Senior Transportation will be disbanded after May 31.

Photo by Charity Meier

Novi City Council reconsiders prior decision and votes to fully subsidize Pex

By: Charity Meier | Novi Note | Published May 22, 2024

 A People’s Express employee demonstrates some of the features of a Pex bus.

A People’s Express employee demonstrates some of the features of a Pex bus.

Photo provided by Evelina Taylor


NOVI — In a turn of events, the Novi City Council reconsidered its previous decision and unanimously voted to fully subsidize the costs of People’s Express transportation services for older adults and people with disabilities during its regular meeting May 6.

“It was disappointing the last time we voted on this that we were taking services that were being provided by the city and adding a cost to them. This is fixing a wrong in my mind,” said Councilman Dave Staudt. “So, I’m pleased that we’re doing this.”

Staudt, who has served on the council for many years, said that as long as he has been on the council, the city has provided free transportation for its seniors. He said that by doing so it enables seniors to vote, go to the library and City Hall. He said that by providing seniors and disabled residents with free rides, it allows them to do things that are “critical to their life.”

The issue of subsidizing rides came to the forefront after the city voted to replace Novi Senior Transit service with Pex, as People’s Express is called, which was recommended by Oakland County, starting on July 1.  Pex will provide services for residents 14 and older as well, provided minors have parental or a guardian’s consent, and also allows for riders to travel farther for the cost of $2 per ride.

The council had voted at its previous meeting April 22 to subsidize rides from Pex for seniors and disabled residents who were going to and from medically related destinations, but not other rides.

“I’ve been talking to different and diverse community members, especially in this age group (55 and older), and my understanding is that they mainly use this for the medical purpose, which made me feel really good. So I’m very happy to see this, because it actually matches, in terms of fare, with our current Novi transportation,” Councilwoman Priya Gurumurthy said May 6.

Councilman Brian Smith pointed out that just because someone is in the age group doesn’t mean they will necessarily be utilizing the free rides.

“Sadly, I’m in that category. I could have been taking our free transit to work for the last 10 years. I think there’s enough friction in the system. Two dollars or $4 — I think it’s more of locking your schedule in, so people who can still drive probably would still choose to drive,” Smith said. “I also think we need to look at people who are younger than that and either can’t or shouldn’t still drive, possibly. So, I think we have a great platform in the new mobility community and hopefully that will be something that gets looked at.”

Mayor Justin Fischer said that he really appreciated the Older Adult Needs Committee taking another look at the issue. He said they, as a city, had made a promise to people and needed to keep it.

“Just because we’re making some changes on who’s driving, just because we’re making some changes to who’s providing the service, we shouldn’t take away the service for free, and it sounds like as a council we are all going to get behind continuing that for our seniors,” Fischer said. “That’s a great accomplishment for all of us to be proud of tonight.”

The measure is expected to cost the city somewhere north of $30,000, as the routes and hours of service have been extended by utilizing Pex. The city has budgeted more than $150,000 for transportation for seniors and those who have disabilities.  The free rides will not be extended to those residents choosing to travel outside the Pex boundaries.

Both Fischer and Staudt expressed their dismay at the April meeting that the county was not allowing Novi to keep its current service and forcing Novi to subsidize the cost for Novi seniors and disabled residents, rather than the county picking up the subsidy with the new service using the tax money that Novi sends to the county. The change was a result of the people’s vote at the last election to expand public transportation into the city.

“The discussions that we’ve been having are that the city (of Novi) is contracting with People’s Express for their service, and if they want that from People’s Express, then the city can continue to subsidize that,” said Oakland County Commissioner Gwen Markham, D-Novi. “There are not other communities that I know of where that’s happening.”

“The $2 that we’re charging for all the Pex communities is going to be the same charge that we are charging for all the other communities,” said County Commissioner Ajay Raman, D-Novi. “So in that regard we’re trying to keep consistency for everybody.”

For more information on the transition to Pex, contact Older Adult Services at (248) 347-0414.