Stateside: Regional transit authority faces big roadblocks

Nov 29, 2012

The Michigan Senate recently passed a bill to create an authority for Detroit and surrounding counties to operate its own transit system.

However, the bill faces significant hurdles in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Michigan Radio’s Jack Lessenberry and Daniel Howes of the Detroit News addressed the various obstacles the bill must overcome.

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.

“The real questions are ones of control and money. We’re the largest metro area in the country that doesn’t have a regional transit system. We continue to fight about the same things,” said Howes.

Lessenberry explained that this system would not replace those in existence today; instead, it would function alongside them.

“This would be an overlay. It would be a new system of rapid buses on top of the existing system. It’s a multi-stage process even once it gets through the House,” said Lessenberry.

But some voters are skeptical of additional expenditures of money, says Howes.

Lessenberry pointed out that residents in Macomb County are wary of paying for a system that won't necessarily directly benefit them. And in Detroit, he says, it's a bit of a different story.

“It’s going to take some selling. There are some Detroiters who don’t want anything, even if it benefits them, if they don’t control it,” said Lessenberry.

If the bill is not passed in this lame duck session of the legislature, lawmakers would have to start over again.

-Cameron Stewart

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