REGIONAL

FLEXIBLE
EXPRESS

refleX

a Regional Transit Pilot Project
developed by Team refleX

JANUARY 2016

Greetings from Team refleX
The idea to introduce regional transit service triggered an immediate
response: restore SMART service into Detroit during off-peak hours.
In a renewed spirit of cooperation, leadership from SMART and DDOT
met to discuss this concept. After some careful thought, we agreed
that the obvious solution was, perhaps, not the best solution. Team
refleX was born.
First, the cost to restore full SMART service on the Woodward and Gratiot
corridors came out to $6.5 Million per year – significantly more than the scope of
the regional project. Downscaling to a partial service restoration may have been
feasible – but it would have come with its own issues: disappointing service levels
and cumbersome operating patterns.
Second, even if a full restoration of SMART service were possible, it would miss an
opportunity to improve transit in a more strategic fashion. A return of old SMART
service would, at best, lapse to an era of confusing boarding policies, uncertainty
about which bus to use, and misinvestment of scarce operating resources. It
would also exclude DDOT, an important player in the larger effort.
And, while a “restore SMART” scenario may have met applause from some
existing transit customers, it would hardly register with new audiences. As RTA
looks toward a region-wide ballot initiative, it will be critical for transit to make a
bigger splash. This, we firmly believe, will require all stakeholders to look forward
rather than look backward.
With these factors in mind, we developed a different solution entirely. Please
browse the following pages and get to know refleX, our concept to get regional
transit up and running.

Team refleX consists of staff from SMART and DDOT

North River
PARK & RIDE

Mt Clemens

Somerset

MAIN & CASS

SOUTH

Adams

Clintondale

ADAMS & MAPLE

GRATIOT & 15 MILE

Northwood

Masonic

WOODWARD & 13 MILE

GRATIOT & MASONIC

Huntington Woods

Roseville

WOODWARD & 11 MILE

GRATIOT & 12 MILE

Ferndale

Eastpointe

WOODWARD & 9 MILE

GRATIOT & 9 MILE

Fairgrounds

East Detroit

WOODWARD & STATE FAIR

GRATIOT & 8 MILE

Manchester

Seven East

WOODWARD & MANCHESTER

GRATIOT & 7 MILE

Clairmount

Harper

WOODWARD & CLAIRMOUNT

GRATIOT & HARPER

Milwaukee

East Grand

WOODWARD & MILWAUKEE

Warren

WOODWARD & WARREN

Orchestra

WOODWARD & PARSONS

GRATIOT & E GRAND BL/WARREN

Eastern Market
GRATIOT & RUSSELL

Frank Murphy

GRATIOT & ST ANTOINE

Grand Circus Park

WOODWARD & ELIZABETH

Bricktown
FORT & BRUSH

refleX is a new
Regional Transit Network.
It starts with two bus routes: mdX, connecting Macomb
County and Detroit via the Gratiot Corridor, and odX,
connecting Oakland County and Detroit via the Woodward
corridor. mdX and odX operate on top of regular SMART
and DDOT local routes.
odX and mdX are high-speed, limited-stop routes. In both the
suburbs and in Detroit, they serve designated stops for boarding or
deboarding. odX and mdX follow the same stopping pattern, at all
times, on all trips, in both directions, in any jurisdiction.
To enable high speeds, odX and mdX stops are spaced far apart
– up to two miles. Transit-dependent customers can enjoy a fast
commute rather than enduring up to 100 local stops on a long trip.
Then, thanks to competitive travel times, new customers can get on
board with transit.
The routing, too, is direct and intuitive. mdX and odX avoid diversions,
turnarounds and backtracking.
Using their existing fleets and workforces, both transit agencies
are involved with the operation of refleX. SMART runs mdX, DDOT
handles odX. Regardless of operator, customers enjoy the same
simple, straightforward experience across the refleX network.

FEATURES
Beyond the service itself, we aspire to improve the entire riding
experience. refleX calls for a one-time capital investment to enable these
critical components:

Product Identity
As a totally different type of service, refleX
demands its own identity. All vehicles operating
along the two refleX routes – mdX and odX – will
wear a dedicated paint scheme. Though SMART
and DDOT operate the service, their individual
identities are not prominently featured.
The freestanding identity is also visible on
customer information, promotional materials, and
a new website specifically for refleX services.

4

refleX Stations
Each stop will feature a refleX station,
consisting of a premium shelter and route
information. In addition to providing an
inviting place to start the trip, refleX stations
will serve as clear symbols of an exciting new
regional service.
SMART and DDOT can borrow from existing
shelter inventories for fast deployment onto
refleX corridors.

Customer Information
Specially designed maps and graphics will
be on display at each refleX station. These
materials will offer essential route and
schedule details, as well as step-by-step
instructions on how to use the service.
Info materials will refer customers to the
refleX website. Additionally, both SMART and
DDOT will make refleX information available
through existing channels, such as phone
lines and their own websites.

5

FARES
Simplicity is a key feature of refleX. To that end, mdX and odX will observe
the same fare structure, exempt from the inconsistencies between
SMART’s and DDOT’s local fare structures.
While a totally separate fare structure could be developed just for refleX,
the routes will operate alongside regular SMART and DDOT routes. As
such, refleX could act as a perfect springboard for wider-reaching fare
alignment.
Currently, this proposal does not include specific recommendations for
fare rates, fare protocol, fare media or revenue handling. As the project
moves forward, Team refleX will be distinctly interested to address these
matters – both for refleX routes and for regular SMART and DDOT routes.

FARES
Regional Pass?

Cash Fare?

People Mover?

Transfers?

Reduced Rates?
Accounting &
Reporting?

6

Day Pass?
Which Routes?

TBD

SERVICE DETAILS
Team refleX has prepared several options for the routes and their service
levels.
mdX and odX target the busiest, most transit-supportive segments of
Woodward and Gratiot. On each corridor, this coverage amounts to
approximately twelve miles in the suburbs and nine miles in Detroit. With
a limited budget, the routes cannot stretch to the outer-most points of
the corridors.
In all scenarios, mdX and odX operate seven days a week with full service
spans. Variations come mainly in frequency and added coverage. At all
times, mdX and odX stop at designated refleX stations only – they do not
serve local stops.

ON

OR

OFF

at ANY

refleX station

at all times

Simple Boarding Patterns
Unlike traditional SMART routes, customers can
board or deboard at any designated refleX station
– regardless of direction or jurisdiction.

8

Baseline Service Package
This is a bare-bones outlay. mdX and odX travel straight up and down each
corridor. To maximize end-to-end-coverage, the routes skip ridership generators
that sit slightly off the corridors.
Though it includes seven day service, the baseline package operates at sparse
headways – every 65 minutes on mdX, every 70 minutes on odX. There is no
additional service during peak hours.
ROUTE

MONDAY-FRIDAY

SATURDAY

SUNDAY

HOURS

HEADWAY

HOURS

HEADWAY

HOURS

HEADWAY

mdX

5:00am12:00am

65

6:00am11:00pm

65

7:00am10:00pm

65

odX

5:00am12:00am

65-75

6:00am11:00pm

70

7:00am10:00pm

70

Bricktown <-> Mt Clemens
Bricktown <-> Somerset

The baseline package establishes lifeline regional service. However, its headway
breaks a cardinal rule of transit: usable service – especially a new one – must
operate every 60 minutes or better for a fair trial. Bringing the headway
inside of 60 minutes would require shortening the routes – thereby compromising
another essential goal of the project.
In order to stay within the budget – $2.8 Million in annual operating costs – this
proposal works mostly with the baseline service package.
We encourage our transit partners to consider the following top-ups. Added
to the baseline package, the top-ups can help refleX to make a much broader
impact.

9

Frequency Top-Up
refleX routes can easily scale up to a 45-50 minute headway. This service level
will make refleX a much more realistic travel option, thus increasing chances for
success.
With the additional resources afforded by better frequency, odX could also
divert from Woodward to serve Downtown Royal Oak or Downtown Birmingham.
These worthwhile destinations are out-of-reach in the baseline package.
ROUTE

MONDAY-FRIDAY

SATURDAY

SUNDAY

HOURS

HEADWAY

HOURS

HEADWAY

HOURS

HEADWAY

mdX

5:00am12:00am

45-60

6:00am12:00am

45-60

7:00am10:00pm

45-60

odX

5:00am12:00am

50-65

6:00am12:00am

50-65

7:00am10:00pm

50-65

Bricktown <-> Mt Clemens

Bricktown <-> Somerset
via Royal Oak -or- Birmingham

Somerset
Birmingham

45

mins

choose one
“worthwhile diversion”

Royal Oak
baseline
speed-routing

10

baseline
speed-routing

Midtown Top-Up
Existing data shows significant demand from Macomb County to activity centers
in Midtown Detroit. Midtown is a transit-ripe destination – and refleX can connect
these dots with additional service in the Gratiot corridor.
A third refleX route – mmX – could provide a direct link between the Gratiot
corridor and Midtown Detroit during Weekday peak hours. This feature would
expose yet another new market to the benefits of transit.
ROUTE

MONDAY-FRIDAY

SATURDAY

SUNDAY

HOURS

HEADWAY

HOURS

HEADWAY

HOURS

HEADWAY

mdX

5:00am12:00am

45-60

6:00am12:00am

45-60

7:00am10:00pm

45-60

mmX

peak
hours

3 trips
in each
direction

5:00am12:00am

50-65

6:00am12:00am

50-65

7:00am10:00pm

50-65

Bricktown <-> Mt Clemens

Midtown <-> Mt Clemens

odX

Bricktown <-> Somerset
via Royal Oak or Birmingham

Wayne State
University

CCS/
Science
Center
selected
peak-hour
trips

Detroit Medical Center/
VA Hospital

11

MOVING IT FORWARD
Team refleX – composed of staff from SMART and DDOT – has collaborated
through every step of this proposal. The Team has prepared additional
details on operation, maintenance, marketing, customer information and
reporting. We can provide these materials upon request.
We invite you to reach out to the Team as we move ahead with this
concept.

John Hertel

GENERAL MANAGER
SMART

313.223.2115
jhertel@smartbus.org

Dan Dirks

DIRECTOR
DETROIT DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

313.833.7667
dandirks@detroitmi.gov

Team refleX consists of staff
from SMART and DDOT

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