The Michigan Legislature held a morning hearing yesterday on the most important transportation bills to hit Lansing all year, and the people of Trans4M member organizations were determined to get there.
The sun was still under the horizon yesterday morning as they boarded a bus for Lansing, where they would be testifying on the need for a regional transit authority in metro Detroit. Their rendezvous location? The Northland Mall transfer point between Detroit’s DDOT buses and suburban SMART buses, a perfect example of the problem the new authority would fix: the region’s thin patchwork of bus systems, poorly coordinated and lacking the rapid transit connections that might help stitch the sprawling metro area together.
The riders came from both city and suburbs, and a range of groups: Transportation Riders United (TRU), faith-based organizers MOSES Michigan, the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, the Troy Chamber of Commerce, even the Detroit Bus Company, the new shuttle service chartered for the ride. But they were united behind the transit bills as the region’s best hope for renewed prosperity.
In Lansing, they arrived at the House office building to find the Transportation Committee hearing room already packed with people. Some took seat sin the overflow room down the hall, as what the Detroit News called a “bipartisan parade of business leaders and officials” (link) gave testimony supporting regional transit.
For many of the people on the bus, though, the most compelling testimony came when MOSES’s Cindy Reese was called to testify. She told the Committee about her decades-long fight for better transit, first for her children and then for her grandchildren.
The overwhelming support for the bills is a testament to a metro Detroit region, and a state, that’s ready to move in a new direction. All that’s needed is for Lansing to act. Pressure will be building over the coming months, so stay tuned.