DRIVE Group Advocates at County Commission Meeting for Public Transit

dickeys top CATER2DRIVE Group Advocates at HowesLocationCounty Commission Meeting for Public Transit

(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 21, 2016)

Pontiac, MI – Members of an interfaith group called DRIVE (Detroit Regional Interfaith Voice for Equity) spoke Thursday to the County Commission about the upcoming ballot measure to fund regional public transit through Metro Detroit.

Ballot language is not finalized yet, but representatives of DRIVE and other organizations have been active in trying to have conversations about transit issues.    DRIVE has over 40 faith leaders and a student group working to raise awareness.  Reverend Greg Larsen, said “As our populations and jobs Chazzano02shifted out of Detroit, transit did not follow.”

In terms of community investment in transit, SE Michigan has per capita spending of $67 per person on public transit.  This compares with $272 per person in Chicago, $216 per person in Pittsburg and $136 per person in Cleveland.    The Regional Transit Authority was created in 2012 to come up with solutions, and the group is nearly ready to put a ballot initiative on the ballot.

“Transit should be seamless, coordinated, reliable and safe,” Larsen said.  Currently the SMART bus system provdes service to about 20 communities in Oakland County, but many municipalities chose to opt out of the system. With a ballot measure every community would be part of the system. DDAnew01

Commissioners listened to a presentation about the benefits of transit, including:  connecting people to jobs, boosting economic development, enable independence for seniors and people with disabilities, attracting and reatining talent and improving quality of life.  The County Commission does not have any say in the ballot language that will be introduced, however the RTA does have two Oakland County representatives on it: Chuck Moss and Tim Soave.

Mike Gingell, Chair of the Oakland County Commission, said he appreciated hearing the reasons for supporting transit, but hthe he wanted more details.  “Up until now I haven’t seen anything about the plan,” Gingell said.  “Our Oakland County Executive has generally said we’re open to things that make sense for our region. ..I still think there needs to be questions answered.”

garden16_cherie_rolfeCommissioner Dave Woodward supports transit funding.  “This conversation about mass transit is imperative.  We as a region have actually failed at this,” he said.  He called for coordinated solutions, not a “Swiss cheese approach to transit which is what we have now.”  There’s a cost to that, but there’s also a cost to inaction.”

Commissioner Helaine Zack invited members of the commission and the public to come to an informational meeting about the Woodward Corridor that will take place Saturday, April 2 from 10am to 12:30pm at the Crowfoot Club in Pontiac.  “This is a transformational issue for the region and I hope people will learn more and educate your constituents.”

Learn more about the RTA at http://www.rtamichigan.org/.

Check out our previous coverage of transit issues at http://oaklandcounty115.com/?s=transit.

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