United Way for Southeastern Michigan endorses Public Transportation Millages in Oakland, Wayne and Macomb Counties 

Public transportation helps vulnerable residents and boosts the economy 

DETROIT – United Way for Southeastern Michigan has added its support to the public transportation millages in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties on the Nov. 8 ballot, recognizing that access to reliable public transportation is vital for workers, families, students and those who cannot afford the cost of owning a vehicle. 

“Quality public transportation is essential to the health, economic mobility and independence of so many in our region,” said Cassie Thierfelder, Director of Advocacy and Government Relations at United Way for Southeastern Michigan.”We’re advocating in support of these millages because transit is an essential part of an equitable, vibrant community and is especially important for families, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and so many of us by providing an accessible, cost-effective means of getting to work, school, doctors’ appointments and more.” 

United Way’s ALICE Report shows that 1 in 3 households in Southeastern Michigan can’t afford necessities like food, housing and health care. This figure is central to the organization’s support of increased access to public transit which is critical to ensuring that essential workers — many of them in households living below what the report identifies as a basic survival budget— can get to their jobs in hospitals, grocery and retail stores, childcare and nursing home facilities around our community. 

“Whether or not we are regular riders ourselves, we all depend on people who depend on transit,” said Thierfelder. 

The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) provides an estimated 10 million rides annually. Voting “Yes” on the Oakland County Public Transportation Millage will expand and maintain existing public transit services, including transportation provided by SMART, Western Oakland Transportation Authority (WOTA), North Oakland Transportation Authority (NOTA) and Older Persons Commission (OPC). Macomb and Wayne Counties’ Public Transportation Millages are renewals of existing services for SMART. 

“In addition to providing this much-needed service, we also know that public transit boosts our local economy by connecting customers with businesses and workers to jobs,” said Megan Thibos, Director of Economic Mobility Initiatives at United Way for Southeastern Michigan.   “United Way for Southeastern Michigan urges people to support this service and our communities by voting “Yes” on the Oakland, Wayne and Macomb County Public Transportation millages.” 

Research shows public transportation is an essential part of thriving communities, improving quality of life and boosting the local economy as every $1 invested in public transportation creates $4 in economic output by attracting new businesses and expanding the talent pool for local employers. 

Funding from both millages will be tracked publicly online to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and transparently, with 100 percent of funds generated staying in their respective counties and subject to annual independent audits to promote fiscal responsibility. 

To learn more about these critical public transportation millage proposals, please visit  UnitedWaySEM.org/VoteYesOnTransit.  

About United Way for Southeastern Michigan     

United Way for Southeastern Michigan, a member of the United Way Worldwide network and an independently governed 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, works to help households become stable and ensure children have the support they need to thrive. For more than 100 years, United Way has been a leader in creating positive, measurable, and sustainable change in communities throughout southeast Michigan. United Way works in partnership with donors, agencies, corporate and municipal partners to help families meet their basic needs of housing, food, health care and family finances, and ensure children start school ready to learn and graduate ready for life. To give, advocate, volunteer or learn more, visit UnitedWaySEM.org.