How Long Will Detroit Residents Have to Wait for More Effective Transit?

Protesters attended the last Detroit RTA meeting, where the board decided to put off seeking additional funding for transit until 2016. Photo: We Are Mode Shift
Protesters attended the last Detroit RTA meeting, where the board decided to put off seeking additional funding for transit until 2016. Photo: We Are Mode Shift

In no major city in the country are transit riders suffering like they are in Detroit. Motor City residents who rely on transit are losing jobs to buses that never show, or waits that last for hours.

There was hopeful news late in 2012, when, under pressure from the Federal Transit Administration, local and state leaders came together to form the area’s first regional transit agency. The system was to replace the fractured city and suburban bus systems, bringing a more coordinated, efficient era of transit service to Detroit.

A little over a year later, David Sands at We Are Mode Shift reports that many transit riders in the region are losing patience with the new RTA:

A palpable feeling of frustration has been hanging over southeast Michigan’s Regional Transit Authority in recent weeks, something clearly on display at the RTA’s board meeting in Detroit late last month.

Transit advocates expecting the postponement of a planned ballot funding measure held a “We Can’t Wait” march from the Rosa Parks Transit Center to the board’s meeting place at 1001 Woodward to encourage board members to take immediate action to improve transit in the region.

During a lengthy public comment session, some stakeholders also expressed dismay over a recommendation by the RTA’s Executive and Policy Committee to push back by two years the ballot campaign that many had hoped would take place this November. Others voiced concern about a lack of visible progress by the regional transit authority as it approaches the end of its first year.

Larry Dilworth, a member of the board’s Community’s Advisory Committee and the disabilities advocacy group Warriors on Wheels, told board members he had considered stepping down from his position with the CAC due to doubts about the RTA’s short-term effectiveness.

RTA’s chief executive John Hertel resigned in January in part because of concerns about funding stability, and that issue is looming over the agency’s hiring process as it seeks to find its footing. Still, some advocates, like Megan Owens of Transportation Riders United, are holding out hope that board’s plan to put off seeking funds until the RTA is more established will pay off. “2016 isn’t that far away,” Owens told We Are Mode Shift.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Michigan Land Use Institute discusses the benefits of crowd-funding real estate projects. Streets.mn makes the case for a vulnerable users law in Minnesota. And Wash Cycle defends Chuck Schumer’s proposed bike-share commuter tax benefit from Republican attacks.

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