Forum in Southfield Shows Need for Transit, Reveals Plan Release Date

Renaissance_Unity_Brown_TopForum in Southfield Shows BubbleTea AdNeed for Transit, Reveals Plan Release Date

(Crystal A. Proxmire, May 3, 2016)

Southfield, MI – Marie Donigan’s stepson lives in Seattle with his fiancé.  It’s a pretty common scenario for people to have adult children living in other states. That’s because Michigan has been experiencing an exodus of talented younger people heading off to live and work in thriving urban areas like Chicago, Denver, and Seattle.

In Donigan’s case, it just does not make sense for the couple to move back to Metro Detroit.  With cars being so expensive and unreliable, it makes sense to live in a place where they can just hop on public transit to get where they need to go.  “His car died. Her car died. And they are fine,” she said.

In addition to being a devoted stepmom and future stepmom in law, Donigan is a former State baby modern natural 04Representative from Royal Oak who is working hard to educate the public about the need for improved public transit.

She is the transit coordinator for the Harriet Tubman Center, working with a coalition of faith leaders in the greater Detroit area to educate the public about the problems that could be solved by investing in a stronger regional transportation system.

She spoke Tuesday night at the Southfield Public Library after being invited by County Commissioner Janet Jackson who represents part of Southfield.  “She came to speak to the County Commission and we asked her to come to share the information with the community,” Jackson said.  “Here in Southfield we have a lot of people who use the SMART Bus and the DDOT.  But for a lot of people it’s hard to get around because of the bus schedules or the bus doesn’t go where they need it to. People need to know what this is about.”

Donigan talked about the needs.

For example, parking around Tiger Stadium and other Downtown Detroit attractions.  With growth and development, the price of parking has skyrocketed.  “There was a vast sea of parking for $10.  Now most of that is gone and you see lots for $30 or $40 and they still have to walk.  Where are people going to park?” she asked.Schrock2015_SmilingFace_ad

Transportation is also important for older adults.  As the population ages, the demand for reliable public transit will grow.  Donigan talked about some ladies in Waterford who would love to be able to hop on the bus and go to Eastern Market for the day.  She said the women used to drive there, but parking had become such a problem that they stopped going.

Often when people talk about transit needs for the aging, they argue that the senior should just be able to ask for a ride from someone else.  But for many this is not an option, or it wears on relationships.  Not being able to get around can be harmful to the seniors too.  “When you get a ride from a friend, you’re not living an independent life.”  In cities that invest in transit, people are able to live active lives well past the point where they are driving.

The same is true for people with disabilities.  Donigan talked about a friend who uses a wheelchair to get around.  He had taken the bus to go see a jazz show, but the event ended royal_servicesafter the time for the last bus, so he wheeled himself nine miles to make it home.

She also talked about students, and the joy of making it to campus and then realizing that access to nightlife, dining, shopping, jobs etc. is not as simple as hopping on a bus.

Many who take the bus currently do so because of their jobs. In the tri-county area, 78% of jobs are not accessible by public transit.  She said that as jobs moved out from the city center, transportation did not grow along with it, leaving a disconnect between workers and employers.

Donigan went on to discuss how investment in transit has helped cities like Chicago, and even Cleveland, grow while Michigan’s millennial population shrinks. “Cities like Chicago…are already seeing the benefits of young talent,” she said.

A Regional Transit Plan is about to be revealed by the Regional Transit Authority.  The unveiling is expected to be May 31 at Lawrence Tech University in Southfield.

Learn more about the RTA at

Check out our previous coverage of transit issues at


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