Letter: Invest strategically in regional transit
When it comes to regional transit, the potential economic and community returns for southeast Michigan are clear. Comparable regions around the country are reaping the benefits of connected, reliable regional public transit and we must invest to compete, prosper, and meet the burgeoning needs of our residents, communities, and businesses.
Strategic investment in reliable regional transit isn’t just smart, it’s imperative. We can’t afford to shut the door on this new investment and keep our region locked in the past.
The lack of connected service across county lines in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties makes it nearly impossible for someone to rely on our regional transit network to quickly and efficiently get to work. Thousands of people across the region do not reside in the county they work in and businesses and workers are equally let down by this disjointed system.
Countless seniors and people with disabilities need and rely on regional transit in order to maintain independence and get where they need to go.
Additionally, the young talent we seek to keep or attract are selecting communities with high-quality transit — with businesses and investment following. A survey of 350 national CEOs ranked transit near the top of qualities that matter in considering our region. And Crain’s Detroit found 73 percent of millennials put regional transit at the top of their wish list. If we want to grow our economy and keep our young people here, regional transit is a must.
Nobody wants to have their tax bill increase, but the theory that spending on our people and services is all bad just doesn’t add up in this case. It can and will bolster a sound, cost-effective, and achievable transit plan and help ensure our region has the services we all need.
The RTA’s Master Plan is the most comprehensive and cooperative approach to solving the region’s transit woes. The plan has built-in taxpayer protection. This guarantees that only voters will decide any increase, renewal, or redirect of money. Voters in the four counties have the final say on any funding question, which will ensure that all monies are dedicated to connecting our communities with reliable regional transit.
Lagging behind and continuing to let citizens down threatens southeast Michigan’s flourishing economy. Across the country, regions are demonstrating the tremendous economic returns that can be realized with a commitment to high-quality transit. A look at neighboring Cleveland shows $114 in economic returns for every $1 the city invested into its Bus Rapid Transit corridor.
By supporting regional transit in November, we can spur economic development, connect employers and employees, ensure independence for seniors and people with disabilities, and attract and retain talent in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.
Dennis Cowan, CEO