SEMCOG decides to give DDOT $7M less in funding - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

SEMCOG decides to give DDOT $7M less in funding

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The DDOT bus system is losing $7 million in funding. The DDOT bus system is losing $7 million in funding.
DETROIT (WJBK) -

Detroit's already struggling bus system is taking a big hit.  Money that DDOT was counting on will now go to the suburb's SMART bus system.

"I shudder to think what's going to happen.  I really do," said passenger Jackie King.  "The bus drivers are going to lose their jobs.  We're going to lose our jobs if we don't have another means of transportation."

A regional planning agency for metro Detroit, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, has spoken, and the outcome of this executive committee was crystal clear.  Their decision -- to cut $7 million from DDOT's budget, cash that is used to keep the fleet afloat.

"The sheer symbolism, the optics in this day and age with respect to Detroit's finances, which are probably the most precarious that they've ever been, the optics of taking money away for whatever reason anybody would try to substantiate I think is reprehensible," said state Senator Burt Johnson.

For dozens of years, DDOT has received the biggest piece of the federal funding pie, but now things are about to be sliced up a little differently.  The SMART bus system from the suburbs will get just over 51 percent leaving DDOT with a little over 48 percent.  One percent will go to the People Mover.

This new formula is not based on population or ridership.  It's now about immediate needs.  The committee claims SMART's needs are greater than those of Detroit.

Meanwhile, the people at SMART say things are finally fair.  For many years it has been slanted towards the city.

"I don't think I can argue that, quite honestly, but as we're starting to move in a positive direction, I think the timing of this is horrendous.  For so many years we never as a region were able to come together on regional transportation.  We have now done that, so let the authority do its job.  It shouldn't be voted on, in my opinion, by SEMCOG," said Detroit Mayor Dave Bing.

Even though that $7 million is meant to manage and maintain the fleet, passengers truly believe losing that much money is going to mess everything up.

"We have signed petitions and to no avail.  They still did what they wanted to do.  At this point, what else could we do?  They have really robbed us of just about everything that we really depend on to even make means," King said.

"I'll have to go back and probably make some adjustments in the budget, which is going to be a negative in the first place because it's not like we've got a revenue stream that allows us to move money around.  I'm going to have to take it from somebody, and that's going to be hurtful," Bing said.

That $7 million will be going away come July first.

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