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Planning begins on transit system connecting Detroit to Ann Arbor, Pontiac, Mount Clemens

May 12, 2015

Transportation providers like SMART would be part of the regional master plan being put together by the RTA
Credit flickr user Matt Picio / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

For years, we've been hearing about a public transportation system that would connect downtown Detroit with three areas: Ann Arbor, Pontiac and Mount Clemens. 

Now, at a kickoff rally in Detroit today, officials announced they'll have those plans ready to go in November, in time to get them on the 2016 ballot.  

In the meantime, the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan wants the public to weigh in on early plans to run lines along three corridors:

1) A Michigan Avenue line running the 40 miles between Ann Arbor and Detroit. It would also connect to  Detroit Metro Airport, as well as stopping through 13 cities, including Dearborn Heights and Ypsilanti.

2) A Woodward Avenue line, which will likely be a bus rapid transit service, from Detroit to downtown Pontiac. The 27-mile route would include Bloomfield Hills, Ferndale and downtown Royal Oak. The RTA says 17% of people living in this corridor don't have a car in their household. 

3) A Gratiot Avenue line would run to the Mount Clemens area, with access to the M-59 interchange. It would also provide transit within in Detroit, including stops in Eastern Market and Ford Field. 

Michael Ford is the CEO of RTA. He says the region is way behind other metro areas in terms of transportation.

"Think about this: how many people can get where they need to go right now? There's needs for frequency, late night service, earlier morning service. So people can get to jobs and get home. So people can get to shows and get home, people can get to sporting events and get home. So right now, that’s an issue.

“What if we just do nothing? People are going to continue to move out, because they can't get to good jobs, they can't get home. They can't just function normally.”

Ford also says the region isn’t keeping up with other areas in terms of investing in public transportation.

“We pay about $84 per capita for transit here, when you compare that to other places at $184. You look at New York at the other end of that, that’s about $624 per capita. We do not invest in transportation.”

The RTA will host public meetings next week in each of the four counties.