After 18 community forums, it is clear that Michiganders want to diversify their state transportation system with more options – from public transit to more pedestrian and bicycle routes. As one participant at the Lansing forum said, “Michigan should have a full range of interconnected transportation choices for easy, safe, and active mobility.” Transportation for Michigan’s (Trans4M) full report on these forums is now available on our website, here.
Last year, Trans4M went on a mission to find out what kind of transportation system Michigan wanted. A series of 18 Community Forums were hosted by local groups all over the state, and attended by over 400 people from the bottom of the mitten in Detroit and St. Joseph, all the way up to the northern reaches of the UP, in Houghton.
At each forum, we had three exercises for attending participants: a mapping exercise, visioning exercise, and budgeting exercise.
In the mapping exercise, participants marked locations on a map of Michigan where they live, commute to, and would like to have access to. Second was a visioning exercise, in which participants examined the vision statements of a variety of transportation entities, and then wrote their own. Finally, in a budgeting exercise, participants examined the current budget distribution at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), and decided how they would allocate each part of the state’s transportation budget.
When the budgeting exercises from all 18 forums are averaged, there are stark differences between Michigan’s current transportation budget distribution and what the people want. The following percentages are the average portions of the total state transportation budget that participants allocated:
- 4.65% of state transportation fund for new road construction – approximately half the current percentage allocated by MDOT.
- 12.49% for local bus operations – over 3X the current percentage.
- 8.47% for local bus purchases – over 4X the current percentage.
- 8.45% for pedestrian and bicycle connections – almost 9X the current percentage.
- 10.33% for intercity train and bus – over 10X the current percentage.
- 9.11% for new transportation modes, like light rail and bus rapid transit – incalculably more than the current amount, since the state does not yet have allocations for these at all.
As illustrated in the following two pie charts, forum participants want investments that are much more evenly spread over multiple transportation modes than the actual 2012 state transportation budget. Currently, MDOT invests 92 percent of its budget into roads and bridges, leaving only 8 percent to be spread over bus, train, bicycle, and pedestrian transportation. However, in the participants’ desired budget allotment, 51 percent is dedicated to roads and bridges, with the remaining 49 percent spread over the other four methods of transportation.
While the transportation budget distribution put together by participants does not allocate by dollar amount, it clearly demonstrates a demand for increased investment in bus, train, bicycle, and pedestrian infrastructure, in Michigan. In the words of one participant at the Detroit forum, “Efficiency, accessibility, and cost-effectiveness are key features of a multi-modal transportation system. This will lead to a better life for all.”
Taking this demand for a multi-modal transportation system in stride, Trans4M has two ways that you can get involved with the continued state transportation policy discussion through our Move Michigan campaign. Our transportation system is not just our roads, it is also our railways, bus routes, bike lanes, sidewalks, ports, and airports – Michigan moves through our complete transportation system. Move Michigan is about supporting, maintaining, and evolving this complete transportation system as a whole. Coming up on April 16, we will be holding our 2013 Trans4M Legislative Day where we will be meeting with our state representatives and senators to inform them of the demand in our state for transportation funding reform. To participate in the 2013 Legislative Day please register online here by April 5. Additionally, Move Michigan is continuing the transportation policy discussion daily through our Facebook and Twitter pages. Join us for the daily discussion online, or simply keep up with what news there is in the discussion.
Check out the full 2012 Community Forums Report to learn what participants at the forum in your community had to say. If you have any questions about these forums or the report, please feel free to contact the project’s lead organizer, Jeremy Orr, from Trans4M core member ISAAC.
By: Dan Sommerville, Transportation For Michigan Fellow