regional transit authority

A map of new transit services proposed in the "Connect Southeast Michigan" plan.
Wayne County

Wayne and Washtenaw County leaders are making a last-ditch effort to get a millage for improved mass transit across southeast Michigan on the November ballot.

A DDOT bus in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

As the old saying goes: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

That applied today as Wayne County Executive Warren Evans went to the Regional Transit Authority board to offer a revised regional transit plan.

Former Michigan Gov. John Engler speaks at Hillsdale College on on January 25, 2009.
Chuck Grimmett / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Former Governor John Engler will donate his salary while serving as Michigan State University's interim president. Engler took over the role after Lou Anna Simon resigned amid criticism over MSU's handling of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.

Engler's appointment has drawn both praise and criticism. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about how he's doing so far. 

Earlier this week, Stateside spoke to Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners Chair Andy LaBarre about their counties’ consideration of a transit plan that would include links between Ann Arbor and downtown Detroit.

Macomb and Oakland county leaders appeared to distance themselves from supporting a ballot proposal for a four county regional transit system.

flickr user Matt Picio / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

At one point, it appeared the leaders of Oakland, Macomb, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties, along with the city of Detroit, were on their way to supporting a ballot proposal this fall for a regional mass transit plan.

That got derailed when the county executives in Oakland and Macomb distanced themselves from the plan.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Oakland County's L. Brooks Patterson, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, and Wayne County's Warren Evans at an event in January.
Detroit Economic Club / via Twitter

With a few words during his annual State of the County address Wednesday night, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson appeared to doom an effort to revive a regional transit plan for metro Detroit.


The "Big Four." From left: Mark Hackel, L. Brooks Patterson, Mike Duggan, Warren Evans.
Detroit Economic Club / via Twitter

This year’s gathering of Metro Detroit’s “Big Four” political leaders highlighted more points of division than unity.

Those leaders are Wayne County Executive Warren Evans, Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

A spirit of regionalism did not prevail at this year’s event, held annually at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show. And the future of regional transit was a major source of contention.

Wikimedia Commons

Southeast Michigan regional leaders have been meeting for months to develop a new regional transit plan, but at least one of those leaders says there’s nothing he can get behind yet.

Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel says there’s no reason to build any system that relies on buses, suggesting those systems will soon be “obsolete.”

The RTA identified the Michigan Avenue Corridor as one of the areas that would have benefited from a regional transit system, had the millage passed.
Regional Transit Authority

It's back to the drawing board for those who've been working towards a true regional transportation system for Southeast Michigan.

A slim majority of voters across Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties last week rejected the regional transit millage. And it will be two years before the RTA can try again.

Stateside was joined by the President and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, Sandy Baruah, who had been hoping the RTA millage would pass. 

Cheyna Roth / MPRN

In this Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss the results of Election 2016, now that the dust has had time to settle.

flickr user Matt Picio / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0


If you favored the Regional Transit Authority millage, you saw a big step towards the connected, regional transportation system that’s never existed in Southeast Michigan.

If you opposed it, you saw a tax hike for services you likely don’t need or care about.

The opposition won. Southeast Michigan voters said “no” to the RTA millage.

Megan Owens of Transportation Riders United spoke with us today.

A map outlining the proposed transit master plan for Metro Detroit.
Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan

A millage proposal to fund transit improvements has failed in Metro Detroit.

It would have allowed the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority to implement an ambitious transit master plan, upgrading the historically dismal and fragmented transit systems in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Washtenaw counties.

The millage would have raised about $3 billion over 20 years to build bus rapid transit systems, bolster and better connect existing bus lines, provide transit connections to Detroit Metro Airport, and other services.

New report analyzes transit millage proposal

Oct 25, 2016
flickr user Matt Picio / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Voters in four Southeast Michigan counties will decide on November 8 whether to raise property taxes to enhance mass transit systems in the region.

The ballot proposal would authorize the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan to levy a new 1.2 mill tax for 20 years in Macomb, Oakland, Wayne, and Washtenaw counties. That would mean about $120 a year for the owner of a $200,000 house.  

Map showing the top 100 travel patterns based on trips taken in 2010.
RTA of Southeast Michigan

In the November election, voters in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties must vote on whether to approve a tax that would fund new transportation between the four counties. 

When you walk into the voting booth, this is the language you will see on your ballot.

Some of you may already know exactly how you're voting, but for those of you looking for more information about the proposal, we've got you covered.

What transportation is being proposed

Jack Lessenberry
Michigan Radio

After a long, grueling campaign season, Election Day is only 20 days away. This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Doug Tribou look at ballot battles in southeast Michigan, including an unusual situation in Macomb County, where a Clinton Township Trustee who's running for supervisor is facing bribery charges.

They also discuss L. Brooks Patterson's bid for a seventh term as Oakland County Executive and a mass transit millage proposal in metro Detroit.

flickr user Matt Picio / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0


The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan’s new transportation plan needs money. On the November ballot, voters in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne Counties will be asked to approve a 20-year property tax millage. Its estimated cost for the average homeowner is about $95 a year.


The millage will pay for new bus rapid transit lines and rail service between Detroit and Ann Arbor. It would also fix what has been a dysfunctional transit system that never really connected the suburban SMART buses with the Detroit Department of Transportation bus system.

I voted sticker
Michael Bentley / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state primary results are in, so what's to come in November? This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rebecca Kruth discuss voter turnout and races to watch on the road to Election Day. They also talk about a resurrected plan to bring regional transit funding to southeast Michigan and a dispute over the state's emergency manager law that's playing out in federal court.

Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan

It took some doing, but metro Detroit voters will get a chance to vote on funding an ambitious mass transit plan in November.

The Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority board approved a 20-year, $3 billion millage proposal on Thursday.

A DDOT bus in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

It looks like Southeast Michigan voters will get a chance in November to vote on a tax to expand public transportation. The deal among Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb county could end decades of stalled efforts. 

Last week, Oakland and Macomb county leaders voted no on a ballot proposal to levy a 1.2-mill, 20-year tax on tri-county residents for coordinated public transportation.

They feared they wouldn't have enough say in how the money was spent.  But a last-minute deal addressed the concerns, and the no votes became yes votes.   

Sarah Hulett/Michigan Radio

A millage proposal to fund major transit improvements in Metro Detroit isn’t dead yet—but it’s very close.

That’s because the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority couldn’t muster the votes to put the measure on the November ballot Thursday.

The millage would have raised about $3 billion (estimates vary) over 20 years. It would have helped fund a $4.6 billion master plan to upgrade Metro Detroit’s lackluster, fragmented transit systems.

But the board couldn’t put together enough votes, because of opposition from Oakland and Macomb county leaders.

A DDOT bus in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

It's no secret that the mass transit picture in Southeast Michigan is beyond dismal.

A staggering 92% of jobs in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties are not reachable by public transportation.

A $4.6 billion, 20-year plan to expand public transportation would address this problem by setting up the Regional Transit Authority. But today, officials from Macomb and Oakland counties voted to reject the plan. 

A map outlining the proposed transit master plan for Metro Detroit.
Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan

Last week, Southeast Michigan's Regional Transit Authority postponed a vote deciding whether to put a millage to fund an ambitious transit master plan on the November ballot.

The delay came as the leaders of Oakland and Macomb counties--and their representatives on the RTA board--outlined a number of objections to the plan, and said they can't support it in its current form. 

flickr user Matt Picio / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

An ambitious plan to expand and upgrade regional transit in Metro Detroit might stall out because two key regional players aren’t on board.

Those two key players are Oakland and Macomb counties.

The Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority wants to put a millage on the November ballot, that would raise about $3 billion (estimates vary) over 20 years to fund its proposed transit master plan.

The RTA board was supposed to approve the ballot measure this week, but ended up postponing the vote at the last minute.

flickr user Matt Picio / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

A grand vision to build up metro Detroit’s historically fractured transit infrastructure makes its official debut Tuesday.

The Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority spent over a year crafting and gathering public input on the master plan.

A DDOT bus in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A series of public meetings are scheduled over the next month as part of an effort to improve regional transit options in Southeastern Michigan. 

The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) plans to host four open house public meetings to showcase preferred options of reliable transportation in Southeast Michigan. 

The RTA's press release can be found here

Sarah Hulett/Michigan Radio

The Next Idea

There are a handful of things we in Michigan are proud of and value about ourselves and our state.  We work hard. We make things. We love our Great Lakes and outdoors.  We are proud of our education institutions and what they represent.

We want to be proud again of our Michigan communities as great places to live, work and raise a family. In order to get there, however, we have a big problem that must first be fixed. Many of our communities, particularly our older core cities and suburbs, are literally falling apart, with no way to pay for their rebuilding.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Metro Detroit's Regional Transit Authority is taking a step toward a coordinated mass transit system for the region.

The RTA is expected to announce how it will go about developing a master plan.

The idea is to put a tax levy on the 2016 ballot to pay for whatever that master plan calls for.

Most likely, it will be a system of buses that can travel at high speeds in dedicated lanes. 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The next two years are make-or-break ones for the future of regional transit in Metro Detroit, according to an expert panel at Tuesday’s Detroit Policy Conference.

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.

First, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan began talking about making a bid for the Democratic National Convention two years from now.

That’s a nice “comeback kid” idea, but there are two major problems.

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.

Plus, conventions are expensive.

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.

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.

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.

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.