regional transit authority

Opinion
10:44 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Can our political system in Michigan be saved?

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.

Read more
Opinion
8:35 am
Mon August 12, 2013

Regional Transit Authority offers real shot at mass transit

Lessenberry commentary for 08/12/2013

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.

Read more
Politics & Government
7:08 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

Vote to shift federal transit funds from Detroit to suburbs opens old wounds

A rift over transit money is once again dividing Detroit from its suburban neighbors.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments voted Friday to shift money from Detroit’s bus system to a suburban line.

SEMCOG has temporary oversight of federal transit funds for capital investment while the new southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority gets up and running.

Read more
Transportation
10:07 pm
Wed April 24, 2013

Detroit prepares to fight for federal bus funds

Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

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.

Right now, that federal money is divided based on ridership. So the Detroit Department of Transportation gets about 65% of the funding, while the suburban system—known as SMART—gets 35%.

Read more
Politics & Government
8:29 am
Thu April 11, 2013

In this morning's news: wolf hunt, Jones Day contract, new transit authority

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Wildlife officials recommend wolf hunt for Upper Peninsula

State wildlife officials are recommending today that a hunt on the formerly endangered gray wolf be allowed to take place this fall.

"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.
 

Detroit City Council reviewing Jones Day contract

The Detroit City Council is reviewing a contract with Jones Day, emergency manager Kevyn Orr's former law firm.

"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.

New Regional Transit Authority meets for first time

Transit advocates celebrated the first meeting of metro Detroit's Regional Transit Authority, which will coordinate the region's transit agencies.

"Advocates want the board to develop a master transit plan, and push a region-wide vote to fund transit operations," Sarah Cwiek reports.

Transportation
6:44 pm
Wed April 10, 2013

Southeast Michigan's Regional Transit Authority holds first meeting

Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

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.

The RTA board consists of representatives from Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, and Washtenaw counties, and the city of Detroit.

Its mission is to coordinate the region’s historically fragmented transit agencies--and pave the way for truly regional rapid transit.

Read more
Transportation
8:22 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Commentary: Whatever happened to the fast buses?

Lessenberry commentary for 3/22/13

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.

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.

Read more
Transportation
7:44 pm
Mon February 18, 2013

"Warrior on wheels" will be Detroit's voice on new regional transit board

Lisa Franklin
Credit Warriors on Wheels of Metropolitan Detroit

An advocate for the disabled will represent Detroit on a new regional transit authority board.

Mayor Dave Bing announced his selection of Lisa Franklin during his state of the city address last week.

Franklin is the President of Warriors on Wheels. 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.

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.

“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.”

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.

“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.

Governor Snyder just signed Regional Transit Authority was signed into law just last December, and likely won’t start meeting for several more months.

It joins representatives from Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland and Macomb counties and the city of Detroit to coordinate Metro Detroit’s historically fragmented public transit systems.

The authority likely won’t get rolling until later this year. Besides Detroit, only Washtenaw county has appointed representatives. Once the full board is seated, they’ll need to pick a director.

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 RTA was formed.

Politics & Government
7:34 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Southeast Michigan has a regional transit authority. What's next?

Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Transit advocates in southeast Michigan are hailing the creation of a new regional transit authority.


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.


Megan Owens heads the group Transportation Riders United. She says the authority represents a “huge step forward” in coordinating the region’s fragmented transit systems—but transit advocates will be keeping a close eye on things.

Read more
Politics & Government
10:14 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Snyder signs multiple bills in "exciting day for Detroit"

Detroit Red Wings' owner Mike Ilitch, right, reaches to shake Governor Snyder's hand. Snyder signed legislation to subsidize a proposed new Red Wings arena.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder was in Detroit Wednesday to sign several bills he says will boost the city's long-term fortunes.

One bill establishes a Regional Transit Authority to fund and operating mass transit in southeast Michigan.

Read more
Transportation
4:04 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Stateside: Mass transit a possible option for the state

A light rail system proposed in Detroit.
screen grab from YouTube video

Adie Tomer spoke with Stateside about the possibility of mass transit in Michigan.

Michigan’s  Regional Transit Authority will attempt to redesign travel throughout the state.

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.

"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.

Read more
Transportation
1:43 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Stateside: Regional transit authority faces big roadblocks

The Regional Transit Authority must pass in the Michigan House of Representatives to be put in place.
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

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.

Read more
Politics & Government
7:57 am
Wed November 28, 2012

The week in Michigan politics

cncphotos flickr

The week in Michigan politics for 11/28/12

This week Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry talked about what legislation is likely to pass before the end of the year, the cash crisis in Detroit, and mass transit in southeast Michigan.

Politics & Government
5:21 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

State Senate approves regional transit authority for southeast Michigan

Mysid Wikipedia

Legislation to create a regional transit authority for southeast Michigan won approval from the state Senate Tuesday.

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.

Republican state Senator Tom Casperson sponsored the legislation.      

“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.

Casperson is from the Upper Peninsula, but says improving transit in southeast Michigan is essential to the state’s economic recovery.

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.

“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.

The legislation now goes to the state House.

Breaking
2:45 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

Michigan Senate passes legislation to create regional transit authority

The state Senate has passed legislation to create a regional transit authority for southeast Michigan. The bill passed 24-to-14 with bipartisan support.

It now goes to the state House.

Politics & Government
8:45 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

LaHood: Metro Detroit, state need to move on regional transit authority

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in Detroit for the tenth time Monday to talk about the region’s mass transit future.

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.

But Lansing hasn’t acted on bills to create an RTA to run that system.

Read more
Transportation
4:36 pm
Wed December 14, 2011

Bing: High-speed buses step toward "regional cooperation"

An artists' rendering of the now-canceled Woodward Light Rail project

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says plans for light rail in the city are being scrapped in favor of a regional rapid transit bus system.

Bus rapid transit is usually more efficient and faster than regular city bus services.

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.

But Bing says he’s been talking with Obama administration officials, Governor Snyder, and other southeast Michigan leaders over the past several months.

Read more