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Op/Ed: Regional Transportation is Worth the Investment

R-PATH group stresses the need for a regional transit authority.

As a group dedicated to transforming and improving the mass transit landscape of the metro-Detroit area, Regional Partners Advocating Transit Here (R-PATH) applauds Governor Rick Snyder’s willingness to champion the need for a viable mass transit system in metro-Detroit.

It is R-PATH’s goal to focus on the broader discussion and continue engaging public officials in useful dialogue that moves forward in favor of a comprehensive regional transit plan for our area.

We, as a group of city and county legislators working with day-to-day issues affecting southeast Michigan, recognize that the need for access to reliable transportation affects us all. The issue crosses generational, socio-economic and racial boundaries, as well as city and county lines.

In 2012, we no longer both live and work in the same community, and a growing segment of the population that uses the available public transit options relies on these options daily. For instance, studies have shown that approximately 65 percent of SMART users utilize the service to get to and from work, and nearly one million people use SMART to travel to work, school, doctor’s offices and shopping centers annually.

Not only does a comprehensive mass transit system transform the way we live, it produces a cleaner, healthier environment and quality of life. Numerous U.S. cities, such as Denver, Salt Lake City, and Portland have tested and proven its impact as an effective economic growth tool, and it has been shown that for every one dollar invested in public transportation, communities experience a $6-8 increase in local economic activity. Clearly, the need to reap the benefits of a world-class mass transit system exists in metro-Detroit, and so does the opportunity. Regional transportation is worth the investment.

The first step in making this vision a reality is the creation of a Regional Transit Authority that will allow us to capture crucial federal dollars which will otherwise be funneled to other regions. We are urging our legislators to realize the impact and importance of this urgent step.

It is imperative that not only R-PATH continues to work together across political and geographic lines to push this common goal forward, but that all state and local leaders lend support on this transformative issue which has the ability to revitalize the region.

R-PATH (Macomb County Commissioners David Flynn, Bob Smith, Toni Moceri, Jim Carabelli, and Board Chair Kathy D. Vosburg; Wayne County Vice Chair Alisha Bell and Commissioner Tim Killeen; Oakland County Commissioners David W. Potts, Jim Nash, Beth Nuccio and Craig Covey; Washtenaw County Commissioners Yousef Rabhi and Barbara Bergman; St. Clair County Board Chair Jeff Bohm and County Administrator Bill Kauffman, Commissioner Terry London; and Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh and President Pro-Tem Gary Brown) 

Boe Seph February 11, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Joni, SMART has a website and should be able to provide specifically how and when these services will be available. I still don't know how a person will be returned from their destination if let’s say it was Schoolcraft College in Livonia? As far as the study is concerned, why has SMART not made this available on their website, isn't this the reason why they own and operate smartbus.org? Making you travel to their downtown office to "see it” is being "real cooperative" as you continue to believe, because it may also be too big for the US Mail. Farmington and Farmington Hills study was on one piece of paper and there are another 22 cities which are a lot smaller? I still won't hold my breath and will wait to see what if anything they voluntarily will finally produce. Good Luck
Miriam Breslauer February 12, 2012 at 05:21 AM
Joni, I am definitely interested in learning more about this new program. Who do I call to get on that program? Are there forms I have to fill out to qualify as a Disabled person? Do you mind providing a link to the article you referenced above? As far as pickup goes, how does that get arranged? How many days in advance notice are needed for times to and from? What if it is a return from a hospital after an emergency (ambulance took me to one of the hospitals for an example)?
Joni Hubred-Golden February 13, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Miriam, my understanding is that SMART is working on this program and will send out information with more details when it is finalized. They have said they will post information at www.smartbus.org and the cities will post information on their websites as well (fhgov.com and ci.farmington.mi.us). Here's a link to the article I referenced above: http://farmington-mi.patch.com/articles/farmington-officials-reverse-smart-vote
Joni Hubred-Golden February 13, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Boe Seph, I will ask why the full study isn't uploaded on their website, that's a good question. In looking at the full system map, I'm not skeptical at all about the size of the report, which includes not only the summaries but all the numbers used to arrive at that one page summary.
Bob Cowen February 14, 2012 at 07:03 PM
If you want to know the whole story and REAL costs of public transportation and (most importantly) much better alternatives, read some articles by Randal O'Toole http://www.cato.org/people/randal-otoole. I hope he will testify at committee meeting hearings.

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