For Immediate Release: Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016
Contact: Sara Wurfel, Truscott Rossman email@example.com
517-599-3470 (c), 517-487-9320 (o)
Farmington Hills, Mich – Job providers, job placement specialists and jobs seekers joined forces today to speak up about one of the biggest barriers to employment in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties: the lack of reliable transportation.
“I know and see firsthand how not being able to check the box for reliable transportation on applications limits opportunities. I could hire a 1,000 workers today if I could find people who simply could get to the job consistently and on time,” said Beth Ardisana, CEO and co-founder of ASG Renaissance, a professional services firm with offices in Farmington Hills and Dearborn that specializes in staffing and recruiting employees for the automotive, healthcare, alternative fuels/energy, environmental, defense, education and the building and construction industries.
Ardisana and ASG Renaissance hosted the roundtable discussion to bring together those who see every day how a lack of regional transit impedes economic growth and burdens workers, communities and businesses. Her ASG Renaissance experience will be featured in an upcoming 30-second TV spot showcasing the need for reliable regional transit.
As the assistant manager for Development Centers’ PATH (Partnership, Accountability, Training and Hope) program, John Teague knows of far too many instances where lack of reliable transportation forces workers to lose their jobs and holds them back from realizing their potential and having a strong quality of life. He was joined by two of the region’s residents – Alicia Davis and Tanisha Holman – who lost their jobs because the current bus system didn’t run late enough or services didn’t extend far enough. “Reliable transportation has a major influence on individual health, opportunity and ability to succeed and thrive. We must do everything we can to break down those barriers,” Teague said.
A staggering 92 percent of jobs in the region can’t be reached within an hour on existing transit, according to the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG).
Lisa Katz, executive director of the Workforce Intelligence Network of Southeast Michigan, says the commuting patterns of Southeast Michigan make the regional transit master plan imperative to ensuring economic opportunity and a vibrant economy for all.
“Our region is home to hundreds of thousands of people who live in one county but work in another county to get to available jobs and the best employment opportunities. Commuting distances and times are increasing,” Katz said. “These trends underscore the critical need for rapid, reliable regional transit. We simply must think and act regionally. Our workers and economic future depend upon it.”
Jose Reyes is the interim president and CEO of Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation, which serves as the city of Detroit’s arm for assisting Motor City employers find workers and jobseekers find jobs. “Transportation is a significant barrier for Detroiters, and an ever-present obstacle for workforce agencies as they try to connect job-ready individuals to employment opportunities,” Reyes said. “Residents and their families, neighborhoods and communities, and businesses all benefit when we can remove barriers to work. Ensuring reliable regional transit is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”
All of these facts are why a growing coalition of businesses, labor organizations, health and hospital providers/systems and other community organizations are also “voting YES for regional transit.” Key supporters to date include Ford Motor Company, GM, Lear Corporation, the UAW, Teamsters, Macomb County Chamber of Commerce, Beaumont Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Detroit Medical Center, Henry Ford Health System, the Michigan Nurses Association, St. John Providence Health System, along with the Area Agency on Aging 1-B and The Senior Alliance.
If approved by voters this fall, the Regional Master Transit Plan will connect more than 2,600 miles, four million residents and nearly two million existing jobs across Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties, ensuring frequent, seamless service on major regional corridors and key connectors instead of today’s fragmented and limited options. It will also increase paratransit services by at least 33 percent to help provide greater independence for seniors and people with disabilities. The 20-year plan will see most new service completed within the first five years.
The proposed ballot initiative includes a taxpayer protection clause that guarantees against any increase, renewal or redirect of any money dedicated to connecting Southeast Michigan’s four counties, without direct approval from voters. Voting yes will connect communities with reliable regional transit and cost homeowners an average of just $96 annually.
For more information about Citizens for Connecting our Communities, visit www.voteyesforregionaltransit.com, follow on Twitter @yesfortransit and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/voteyesforregionaltransit.