Infrastructure bill would bring big upgrades to SMART buses

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Big improvements could be underway for public transportation in the Detroit metro area – and plenty of job opportunities.

“All it takes for this region to get as much money as possible is our effort,” said Robert Cramer, Deputy CEO of SMART.

About $ 85 billion federal – up for grabs… for modernizing public transportation across the country. A piece of that cake will come to Southeast Michigan and the SMART transit system.

It has not yet been divided. Next week, President Joe Biden is expected to approve the bipartisan bill passed by Congress. Cramer says there’s a good idea of ​​what the money will fund.

“We know there is going to be a lot of money for low-emission vehicles and low-emission vehicles,” he said. “So things like electric, hybrid and even hydrogen vehicles.”

SMART is already going green. Cramer says that money would speed it up, and whatever they finish, would pay for the upgrades passengers notice.
“Money not only for the terminals or as the transport hub for the amenities for passengers like shelters and things on the street that can make the use more comfortable for people,” he said. .

The extra dollars are very important to communities of color, which are five and a half times more likely to get around using public transportation.

Federal money is part of a longer term strategy for SMART. But right now they have to hire drivers – and like so many other businesses and agencies, it’s tough there.

“There was already a shortage of drivers – and really a shortage of drivers and mechanics before the pandemic,” Cramer said. “And certainly after the pandemic didn’t help that.”

For employers – like SMART – it’s competitive, trying to attract business drivers.

SMART is working on plans to add signing and sponsorship bonuses and to host employment events – where you can be hired on the spot.

People can go out and do interviews on site and be hired on site, ”Cramer said.

For more details on upcoming SMART Driver Recruitment events, visit smartbus.org/How-to-Ride/FAQs/Employment


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