Advocates Get on the Bus to Support Regional Transit in Lansing

At the Michigan House of Representatives offices in Lansing Thursday.

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.

Bus riders wait to transfer at Northland Mall in Southfield.

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.

Advocates head toward Lansing, the sun at their back.

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.

The House Transportation Committee hears Rock Ventures’ Matt Cullen.

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.

Cindy Reese of Detroit: “I’ve been fighting this battle for twenty years.”

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.

Detroit Bus Company owner Andy Diderosi parked outside House offices.

One Comment on “Advocates Get on the Bus to Support Regional Transit in Lansing

  1. Regional Transit Authorities have turned out to be bad ideas elsewhere; a better alternative exists. It’s easy to see a disastrous future if you search the Internet for RTA problems: huge cost overruns, long construction delays, broken promises about stops/stations, missed deadlines, service cut-backs of routes & hours, price increases, poor maintenance, overestimated ridership, underestimated operating costs, politicization and cronyism in-spite of the best intentions, due diligence, assurances and oversight. See what happened in Denver, Cleveland, Nashville, Sacramento, St. Louis, Chicago, Atlanta, Tampa, Portland, Los Angeles and elsewhere. Do your own research! Does anyone in Michigan really believe that a Regional Transit Authority can avoid these types of problems and properly serve the public and the taxpayers?

    Years from now, don’t say that you were not warned or didn’t conduct your own due diligence. It’s your money they’re spending!

    A much better solution is to permit entrepreneurs to offer unrestricted transportation services (shuttle, van, taxi, jitney). Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, introduced a measure (HB 5724) that would prohibit cities from banning the establishment or use of jitneys as a means of public transportation. Social media will very quickly spread the word about who is good and who is not. Low income & seniors can be given vouchers or a BRIDGE type of card. It’s worked elsewhere and well worth a two year test. Put the brakes on a Regional Transit Authority before entwining three or four counties with their layers of politicians into an even bigger SMART type of mess. Unshackle the free market; you’ll be surprised at how quickly two good things happen: much better service for customers and much lower cost for taxpayers! Tell your Lansing Representative to endorse HB 5724.
    Bob Cowen
    Farmington Hills

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