Transit Task Force

Is it possible for Royal Oak to have its own transit system?

In January 2017, the Royal Oak City Commission identified improving public transportation as a goal for the 2017-18 fiscal year and formed a task force to study the issue and bring forth recommendations. Marie Donigan, former state representative and city commissioner, volunteered to chair the Royal Oak Transit Task Force.

The goal of the transit task force is to:

* Advise the city commission on a local public transit strategy that improves and allows people of all ages to get in and around Royal Oak.

* Analyze costs, identify funding sources and present a plan to the city commission for one or more public transit strategies.

The Survey

To gauge the public’s knowledge of and interest in a localized, connected public transit network for Royal Oak, the transit task force prepared a survey. Over 1,200 people responded! You can read the full results of the Royal Oak Public Transit Survey, but as a general summary, 66% of survey respondents say they would use transit if it was frequent, connected to the region and covered the entire city. Residents want to go to downtown Royal Oak, events like Arts, Beats and Eats, the Farmer’s Market and the Detroit Zoo. Most Royal Oak residents don’t use transit now but are willing to learn. Parents of high school and middle school students are willing to put their kids on public transit if it’s convenient and safe, and improving transit service for seniors and people with disabilities is important.

ROGO - Royal Oak Local Transit

Based on the survey responses and feedback obtained at Task Force meetings, planners from the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART), our public transit partner and regional transit provider, prepared several scenarios for the Task Force to review.

The Task Force identified the following priorities for the development of a Royal Oak transit system:

1) Improve senior transit in the city to better meet demand and need; and

2) Help get students to school (Royal Oak Middle School and High School); and

3) Increase mobility in and around Royal Oak, allowing residents to get to popular destinations they want to go without a car; and

4) Connect to the region’s existing transit infrastructure (FAST bus, train station, etc.)

At the April 3 meeting, the Task Force identified a preferred scenario, which we’ve been calling ROGO. SMART planners presented that scenario with funding options and financial data to the Task Force on April 17.

ROGO proposes two new transit routes: one on Crooks Road (orange), and the second one on 13 Mile, Campbell and 11 Mile (blue). Furthermore, ROGO improves service with more frequency and extending the route on the existing SMART route 430 on Main Street (green). Service would operate with 15 - 30-minute frequencies on weekdays, evenings and weekends. The city would also have an additional 600 hours annually of extra service for special events and other uses to meet city transit needs. In addition, ROGO doubles funding for Royal Oak’s existing curb-curb service for people over 60 and with disabilities.

Routes are designed to build on existing transit service. ROGO will offer service where none currently exists within a ¼ mile walking distance from most places in Royal Oak; extends across the entire city; and makes connections to SMART’s Woodward FAST bus and other cross-community routes.

ROGO, as proposed, will cost between $3.7 and $4.6 million a year to operate using a possible combination of existing State Local Bus Operating Assistance funds (gas tax), funds in partnership with SMART, farebox revenue, institutional support and a property tax millage (yet to be determined). Expenses include capital investments including but not limited to cameras, shelters, technology and bus tracking systems, labor, marketing, etc. SMART will secure the 14 vehicle fleet and also is willing to pay 1/3 of the cost of the enhanced 430 Main Street route.

Next Steps

The ROGO plan and funding options will be presented at a Public Open House on Saturday, May 12, 2018, in the Royal Oak Public Library Auditorium between 1 - 4 p.m. The purpose of the event is to update the community on the progress of the Task Force, and seek additional community feedback and input before a recommendation is made to the full city commission. The Task Force plans to make a recommendation to the City Commission in June 2018.

Public Transit Strategies

Based on the survey responses and feedback obtained at task force meetings, planners from the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART), our public transit partner and regional transit provider, prepared several strategies for the task force to review at the March 20, 2018, task force meeting. All six strategies include options to connect to SMART’s FAST bus system on Woodward and to destinations throughout the city. The Task Force eliminated Scenario 1, 3 and 5 from consideration, but liked aspects of the rest. You can see them all and the narrative that explains them by clicking on the link below.

RoGo Max

Next Steps

The task force will meet on Apr. 3, 2018 at 6 p.m. in Room 315 at City Hall to review revised strategies, discuss funding options and plan an open house to be held in April or May.