SMART, in partnership with Via, recently put in service a new on-demand transit option for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties that it believes will transform the way residents access public transportation to places like hospitals, vaccine centers and more.

SMART, in partnership with Via, recently put in service a new on-demand transit option for Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties that it believes will transform the way residents access public transportation to places like hospitals, vaccine centers and more.

Photo provided by Lacee Shepard


New SMART Flex service offers on-demand transportation along Hall Road

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published April 5, 2021

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UTICA/SHELBY TOWNSHIP — On March 24, the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation, in partnership with Via, announced its first-of-its-kind mobility service for Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties that it believes will transform the way that residents access public transit.

This week SMART began to operate the new on-demand public transit service, called SMART Flex, which are vehicles that SMART says will improve the convenience of its existing transit system.

Using the SMART Flex mobile app, anyone within the SMART Flex zones, including residents and workers in Dearborn, Troy, and the Hall Road corridor between Utica and New Baltimore will be able to request a vehicle directly from their smartphone or by calling the call center at (734) 212-8429.

Riders can distinguish which types of trips they are trying to schedule when they book them.

Via’s technology will then match passengers and vehicles together in real time and direct riders to a nearby “virtual bus stop” for pickup and drop-off. The service will offer wheelchair-accessible vehicles and offer door-to-door service for those with limited mobility.

SMART Flex vehicles are six-passenger vans and the fleet is a mix of the Chrysler Pacifica and the Dodge Grand Caravan. The vehicles are wrapped with the SMART Flex logo so that riders can easily spot them. The vans also offer wheelchair-friendly options, which riders can request when booking their rides.

Robert Cramer, deputy general manager of SMART, said the organization is proud to have these three zones in service.

“SMART is excited to launch SMART Flex in these three zones across our region to start the next innovation in public transportation. This service builds on SMART’s most successful and convenient fixed routes to provide convenient service across these entire zones,” he said in a press release.

Tony Vinson, SMART’s director of transportation, talked about the Hall Road zone as it applies to Utica and Shelby Township.

“There are three SMART Flex zones. The SMART Flex Hall Road zone serves downtown Utica, Jimmy John’s Field, and Shelby Township between Hall Road and 21 Mile Road. Passengers are able to request a ride and travel anywhere within the zone,” he said via email.

The new transportation service also is working to eliminate transit as a barrier for people to get vaccinations. SMART Flex is providing free trips to vaccine centers across the metro Detroit area through the mobile app. Trips to and from vaccine centers are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. SMART reported that it had directly provided more than 500 rides for residents to get their vaccinations since the free service began March 10.

SMART Flex will offer its “microtransit” trips from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Rides start at $2, with a maximum price of $8, depending on distance. Payment can be made by credit card or with Dart or SMART passes. The SMART Flex app is available in English and Arabic. When a rider combines both SMART fixed route service and SMART Flex to complete a trip, the first $2 of the ride is included as part of the fixed route total fare.

Khalil Rahal, chairman of the SMART Board of Directors and Wayne County deputy county executive, said in a press release the service allows people to get to where they need to go quickly.

“SMART is taking several giant steps forward with the introduction of the Flex service; it helps to better meet the varying transit needs across the region with quick, affordable service. The new SMART Flex service in Dearborn, Troy and the Hall Road corridor is a flexible, technology based, vital transit service that helps people to easily move around to get to the places they need to go,” he said.

Daniel Ramot, Via CEO and co-founder, said in a press release the new service is a big improvement for transportation in the area.

“The launch of SMART Flex is a pivotal moment for transit in the metro Detroit area. A technology-enabled mobility solution will enhance and extend the strong transit network that SMART has already established, and offer a new way for residents to access critical opportunities across the region.”

Technology-enabled transit allows the service to be flexible, and allows SMART to make informed decisions throughout the duration of this initiative based on the changing needs of the community.

“We are excited to provide this new type of transit service. SMART Flex will all us to maximize our resources and provide a cost-effective and efficient transit service. SMART Flex is flexible on-demand service that will allow us to increase service coverage in areas that are hard to serve by traditional fixed route,” said Vinson.

For routes and fare information, and COVID-19 updates, visit smartbus.org.

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