regional transit authority en Can our political system in Michigan be saved? <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">They used to say that the definition of chutzpah was the boy who killed his parents and then asked the court for mercy since he was an orphan. But that was improved on twice this week.</span></p><p>First, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan began talking about making a bid for the Democratic National Convention two years from now.</p><p>That’s a nice “comeback kid” idea, but there are two major problems.</p><p>The entire metro area probably doesn’t have enough hotel space. Detroit could barely host the Republican Convention in 1980, and Democratic conventions have more delegates.</p><p>Plus, conventions are expensive. Fri, 21 Feb 2014 15:44:25 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 16542 at Can our political system in Michigan be saved? Regional Transit Authority offers real shot at mass transit <p>With the surprising outcome in the Detroit mayor’s race last week and other news, you may have missed a significant development on the transportation front.</p><p>John Hertel, the current head of SMART, the suburban bus system, was chosen as the first CEO of the new Regional Transit Authority for Southeastern Michigan, known as the RTA.</p><p>Hertel is a longtime successful political player with a reputation for getting it done. He’s been a state senator, chair of the Macomb County Commissioners, and for years successfully ran the State Fair. He is a Democrat who Republican governors have often found an acceptable partner.</p><p>If he succeeds, within a few years the entire metro area will be serviced by rapid buses which look more like railroad cars, and have their own special lanes. They’ll whiz passengers throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw Counties, to and from Detroit Metro Airport, and connect with existing bus services.</p><p> Mon, 12 Aug 2013 12:35:21 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 13931 at Regional Transit Authority offers real shot at mass transit Vote to shift federal transit funds from Detroit to suburbs opens old wounds <p>A rift over transit money is once again dividing Detroit from its suburban neighbors.</p><p>The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments voted Friday to <a href="|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE">shift money from Detroit’s bus system to a suburban line.</a></p><p>SEMCOG has temporary oversight of federal transit funds for capital investment while the new southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority gets up and running.</p> Fri, 26 Apr 2013 23:08:24 +0000 Sarah Cwiek 12310 at Detroit prepares to fight for federal bus funds <p></p><p>A vote this Friday could determine how federal transit money is split between Detroit and its suburbs—and Detroit officials aren’t at all happy with what’s being proposed.</p><p>Right now, <a href="">that federal money is divided based on ridership</a>. So the Detroit Department of Transportation gets about 65% of the funding, while the suburban system—known as SMART—gets 35%.</p> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 02:07:47 +0000 Sarah Cwiek 12280 at Detroit prepares to fight for federal bus funds In this morning's news: wolf hunt, Jones Day contract, new transit authority <div><b>Wildlife officials recommend wolf hunt for Upper Peninsula </b><br><br>State wildlife officials are <a href="">recommending</a> today that a hunt on the formerly endangered gray wolf be allowed to take place this fall.<br><br>"The Michigan Natural Resources Commission will receive a recommendation to kill 47 wolves as part of a hunt focused in three parts of the Upper Peninsula," Michigan Radio’s Steve Carmody reports.<br>&nbsp;</div><p><b>Detroit City Council reviewing Jones Day contract </b><br><br>The Detroit City Council is <a href="">reviewing</a> a contract with Jones Day, emergency manager Kevyn Orr's former law firm.<br><br>"The Jones Day firm is already working with the city on some long-term restructuring. Some Council members suggest there are conflicts of interest because Jones Day also represents several Detroit creditors," according to Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek.<br><br><b>New Regional Transit Authority meets for first time</b><br><br>Transit advocates celebrated the first meeting of metro Detroit's Regional Transit Authority, which will coordinate the region's transit agencies.<br><br>"Advocates want the board to develop a master transit plan, and push a region-wide vote to fund transit operations," Sarah Cwiek <a href="">reports.</a></p><p> Thu, 11 Apr 2013 12:29:35 +0000 Michigan Radio Newsroom 12092 at In this morning's news: wolf hunt, Jones Day contract, new transit authority Southeast Michigan's Regional Transit Authority holds first meeting <p>Transit advocates in southeast Michigan heralded the start of a “new era in public transportation," as a Regional Transit Authority’s board met for the first time Wednesday.</p><p>The RTA board consists of representatives from Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, and Washtenaw counties, and the city of Detroit.</p><p>Its mission is to coordinate the region’s historically fragmented transit agencies--and pave the way for truly regional rapid transit.</p> Wed, 10 Apr 2013 22:44:44 +0000 Sarah Cwiek 12089 at Southeast Michigan's Regional Transit Authority holds first meeting Commentary: Whatever happened to the fast buses? <p></p><p>Back in December, when the legislature stunned Michigan by making this a right to work state, the drama over that drowned out another hugely significant development. The lawmakers approved a Regional Transit Authority for the Detroit Metropolitan area, finally paving the way for a system of fast buses with their own special lanes and a long-overdue coordination of city and suburban bus systems.</p><p>But there’s been little publicity about the project since. Earlier this week, I talked to the two men who know most about it. Paul Hillegonds, who the governor appointed to head the new RTA, and John Hertel, now the general manager of SMART, the suburban bus system. Both told me things were on track.</p><p> Fri, 22 Mar 2013 12:22:19 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 11818 at Commentary: Whatever happened to the fast buses? "Warrior on wheels" will be Detroit's voice on new regional transit board <p></p><p>An advocate for the disabled will represent Detroit on a new regional transit authority board.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Mayor Dave Bing announced his selection of Lisa Franklin during his state of the city address last week.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Franklin is the President of <a href="">Warriors on Wheels</a>. That group has built expertise and credibility as they’ve fought to draw attention to systemic dysfunction in Detroit’s transit system, particularly for the disabled.</span></p><p>Franklin said she’s genuinely excited about her appointment. She believes the authority’s first overarching task is to outline a unified vision for mass transit in Metro Detroit.</p><p>“Personally, I would like for us to all sit down and figure out what we want. The best possible service that we can have,” Franklin said. “And then from that point we need to figure out how to connect all of the dots, and then figure out how much it will cost and how we can pay for it.”</p><p>Franklin also brings her perspective as a Detroiter who relies on transit. She said one of her main concerns will be how to build a functional and unified public transit system overburdening the low-income people who rely on transit the most.</p><p>“I’m hoping that we can connect all of the counties, so that people can go to work, go to doctor’s appointments, without any limitations,” Franklin said.</p><p>Governor Snyder just signed Regional Transit Authority was signed into law just last December, and likely won’t start meeting for several more months.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">It joins representatives from Wayne, </span>Washtenaw<span style="line-height: 1.5;">, Oakland and Macomb counties and the city of Detroit to coordinate Metro Detroit’s historically fragmented public transit systems.</span></p><p>The authority likely won’t get rolling until later this year. Besides Detroit, <a href="">only Washtenaw county has appointed representatives</a>. Once the full board is seated, they’ll need to pick a director.</p><p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The U.S. Department of Transportation had withheld millions to build up Detroit area transit--including a proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) line--until an </span>RTA<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> was formed.</span></p><p></p><p> Tue, 19 Feb 2013 00:44:20 +0000 Sarah Cwiek 11287 at "Warrior on wheels" will be Detroit's voice on new regional transit board Southeast Michigan has a regional transit authority. What's next? <P>Transit advocates in southeast Michigan are hailing the creation of a new regional transit authority.</P> <P>Governor Snyder signed legislation to create the authority this month. It will include members from Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Washtenaw counties, as well as the city of Detroit.</P> <P>Megan Owens heads the group <A href="">Transportation Riders United</A>. Thu, 27 Dec 2012 00:34:57 +0000 Sarah Cwiek 10536 at Southeast Michigan has a regional transit authority. What's next? Snyder signs multiple bills in "exciting day for Detroit" <p>Governor Snyder was in Detroit Wednesday to <a href="|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE">sign several bills he says will boost the city's long-term fortunes</a>.</p><p>One bill establishes a Regional Transit Authority to fund and operating mass transit in southeast Michigan.</p> Thu, 20 Dec 2012 03:14:05 +0000 Sarah Cwiek 10457 at Snyder signs multiple bills in "exciting day for Detroit" Stateside: Mass transit a possible option for the state <p>Michigan’s&nbsp; Regional Transit Authority will attempt to redesign travel throughout the state.</p><p>Adie Tomer, a Senior Research Associate at the Brookings Institution, says implementing a mass transit system in Detroit is entirely possible. Tomer says the state has put spending highway infrastructure ahead of spending on mass transit.</p><p>"One of the consequences of building out so many highways… is an underinvestment relative to those highway miles for public transit. In many ways, this left Detroit as one of the few cities without a major mass transit system," said Tomer. Wed, 19 Dec 2012 21:04:05 +0000 Michigan Radio Newsroom 10449 at Stateside: Mass transit a possible option for the state Stateside: Regional transit authority faces big roadblocks <p>The Michigan Senate recently passed a bill to create an authority for Detroit and surrounding counties to operate its own transit system.</p><p>However, the bill faces significant hurdles in the Michigan House of Representatives.</p><p>Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry and Daniel Howes of the Detroit News addressed the various obstacles the bill must overcome.</p><p>The bill is decades in the making and has wide support throughout Michigan, but Howes says the reason it has not yet passed is due to a history of control issues. Thu, 29 Nov 2012 18:43:30 +0000 Michigan Radio Newsroom 10136 at Stateside: Regional transit authority faces big roadblocks The week in Michigan politics <p>This week Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry talked about what legislation is likely to pass before the end of the year, the <a href="">cash crisis</a> in Detroit, and mass transit in southeast Michigan.</p><p> Wed, 28 Nov 2012 12:57:38 +0000 Jack Lessenberry, Christina Shockley & Emily Fox 10095 at The week in Michigan politics State Senate approves regional transit authority for southeast Michigan <p>Legislation to create a regional transit authority for southeast Michigan won approval from the state Senate Tuesday.</p><p>It passed the Senate by ten votes. A number of opponents have voiced concerns about how the authority would be governed, and the amount of power it would have.</p><p>Republican state Senator Tom Casperson sponsored the legislation.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>“They were valid concerns. But I think there needs to be a regional transit authority set up, in my opinion, based on what I’ve seen down in Detroit. And I think there was plenty of support for it. You saw it today, and hopefully we see the same thing over in the House,” Casperson said.</p><p>Casperson is from the Upper Peninsula, but says improving transit in southeast Michigan is essential to the state’s economic recovery.</p><p>Democratic state Senator Coleman Young II was the only member from Detroit to vote against the measure. He said he supports creating a regional transit authority, but not one with the power to take away property.</p><p>“I think that when you have appointees making decisions about whether or not grandma’s going to keep her house or not, I think that’s wrong,” said Young.</p><p>The legislation now goes to the state House. Tue, 27 Nov 2012 22:21:23 +0000 Jake Neher 10090 at State Senate approves regional transit authority for southeast Michigan Michigan Senate passes legislation to create regional transit authority <p>The state Senate has passed legislation to create a regional transit authority for southeast Michigan. The bill passed 24-to-14 with bipartisan support.</p><p>It now goes to the state House. Tue, 27 Nov 2012 19:45:30 +0000 Jake Neher 10084 at LaHood: Metro Detroit, state need to move on regional transit authority <p>US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in Detroit for the tenth time Monday to<a href=""> talk about the region’s mass transit future</a>.</p><p>LaHood met with Governor Snyder, Mayor Dave Bing, and state lawmakers, and again made clear that the federal government is willing to put money into a regional transportation authority (RTA) for Detroit.</p><p>But Lansing hasn’t acted on bills to create an RTA to run that system.</p> Tue, 16 Oct 2012 00:45:43 +0000 Sarah Cwiek 9489 at Bing: High-speed buses step toward "regional cooperation" <p>Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says plans for light rail in the city are being scrapped in favor of a regional rapid transit bus system.</p><p>Bus rapid transit is usually more efficient and faster than regular city bus services.</p><p>Years of planning and millions of dollars went into the proposal to run a light rail line up Woodward Avenue, from downtown Detroit to the city limits.</p><p>But Bing says he&rsquo;s been talking with Obama administration officials, Governor Snyder, and other southeast Michigan leaders over the past several months.</p> Wed, 14 Dec 2011 21:36:06 +0000 Sarah Cwiek 5401 at Bing: High-speed buses step toward "regional cooperation"