Washtenaw County businesses, community leaders and labor organizations say YES for regional transit

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016

Contacts: Sara Wurfel, Truscott Rossman swurfel@truscottrossman.com

517-599-3470 (c), 517-487-9320 (o)

Supporters to lead “Main Street Walk” in Ann Arbor’s Kerrytown on Thursday, Oct. 13

Ann Arbor, Mich – Leaders from diverse industries, organizations and communities across Washtenaw County have emphatically endorsed the “Vote YES for regional transit” ballot initiative before voters this November. Supporters, led by Ann Arbor community leader Susan Pollay, will walk the streets of the Kerrytown Market & Shops to share information and raise further awareness on the transit proposal on Thursday, Oct. 13 from 2 to 4 p.m.

From the local chamber of commerce and leading businesses to labor organizations, senior and disability advocates and elected officials, the momentum to make regional transit a reality keeps growing, according to Shaun Wilson, spokesperson for Citizens for Connecting our Communities, the official ballot committee for regional transit in Southeast Michigan.

“When 92 percent of the region’s jobs aren’t reachable within 60 minutes of existing transit, Washtenaw County leaders recognize how imperative it is to act and truly connect our counties and communities – Washtenaw, along with Macomb, Oakland and Wayne – and move our region forward,” Wilson said. “The plan will also make a real difference in helping our citizens, especially increasing independence for seniors and people with disabilities.”

“Washtenaw County and our region will benefit greatly from the RTA (Regional Transit Authority) proposal, as it will help Washtenaw County address our increasing economic inequities and inequalities by improving access to jobs and services for our residents,” according to the resolution adopted by the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Regional Chamber to support the measure and urge a YES vote for regional transit.

Two of the county’s most prominent businesses also fully support the proposal – Zingerman’s Community of Business and Duo Security.

As the fastest-growing technology company in Michigan, Duo Security has hired hundreds of people in Ann Arbor in the last few years, but says regional transit is key to meeting their growth projections and being able to hire hundreds more.

“Strong regional transit is critical to helping us meet our talent needs and creating the connected, livable communities we know our employees are demanding,” said Dug Song, CEO and co-founder. “We also know that comparable regions around the country are reaping the benefits of connected, reliable regional public transit and we must invest in Southeast Michigan’s transit – smartly – to compete, prosper and meet the needs of our residents, communities and businesses.”

Labor organizations like the Huron Valley Area Labor Federation, with 37 local union affiliates serving as the regional organizing arm of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), is actively supporting the proposal too.

“Far too many jobs go unfilled and opportunities are lost for workers because they don’t have access to reliable transportation. That has a negative trickle-down effect on the communities we live and work in as well as our economy,” said Ian Robinson, president. “That’s why we are joining forces with our labor brothers and sisters as well as the business community to support the vote YES for regional transit ballot initiative this November.”

Specific benefits of the Regional Master Transit Plan for Washtenaw County include:

  • More than 4,300 new jobs supported over the next 20 years.
  • Gross regional product will grow by approximately $346 million with real personal income growing by approximately $244 million.
  • Commuter rail service between Ann Arbor and Detroit with frequent stops in between, including Ypsilanti and Dearborn.
  • Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) services throughout southeast Michigan, including along Washtenaw Avenue between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
  • New express bus services to and from Ann Arbor, Plymouth, and Livonia for commuters along the Plymouth Road Corridor.
  • Expanded paratransit (specialized door-to-door) services throughout the region to help increase independence for seniors and people with disabilities.

The Ann Arbor City Council, Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, Ypsilanti City Council, Ypsilanti District Library, and Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority have all also voted to endorse the Nov. 8 ballot proposal.

The Ann Arbor City Council’s resolution showcased why Southeast Michigan can no longer afford to invest so little ($69 per capita compared to $283 by Chicago and $177 by Cleveland) and be the last big region in the country without a reliable regional transit system: “The City of Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan cannot expect to compete economically with other major metropolitan areas without a modern, effective and reliable public transit system.”

Studies show that for every $1 invested in regional transit at least $4 is returned in economic value. In fact, Cleveland dramatically exceeded the minimum economic impact, generating $114 for every dollar spent developing the city’s rapid bus system.

These other Washtenaw-County based businesses, organizations and elected officials have also joined the call for a YES vote for regional transit in Southeast Michigan:

  • A3C Collaborative Architecture
  • Area Agency on Aging 1-B (serving Washtenaw County)
  • American Federal of Government Employees Local 3907
  • Ecology Center
  • Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid-Michigan
  • Huron River Watershed Council
  • Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice
  • Michigan Economic Center
  • NAACP Ypsilanti-Willow Run Branch
  • PEAC – the Program to Educate All Cyclists
  • State Rep. Jeff Irwin
  • State Rep. David Rutledge
  • State Rep. Adam Zemke
  • State Sen. Rebekah Warren
  • Washtenaw Area Organizing Coalition (WEROC)
  • Washtenaw Partners for Transit

They join the diverse and rapidly growing coalition of businesses, labor organizations, health and hospital providers/systems and other community organizations. Some of these newest supporters include Ford Motor Company, GM, Lear Corporation and the UAW, 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.

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.

To view the growing list of coalition members and learn more, please visit: http://voteyesforregionaltransit.com/our-coalition/

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