July 19, 2016

frequently asked questions

Below you’ll will find answers to frequently asked questions. Have a question that isn’t on the list? Email us at team@VoteYESforRegionalTransit.com and we’ll make sure to answer it!

What is wrong with the current system?

Southeast Michigan’s regional transit system is among the worst in the country, leaving our region at a disadvantage compared to similar regions. There is no regional transit that connects Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. Four (soon to be five) different providers serve the four-county region, but the current regional transit system is too disconnected to provide the comprehensive service people need. People cannot get to work because about 92 percent of jobs simply cannot be reached within 60 minutes using existing transit services. Our seniors need a public transit system that connects our communities so they can maintain independence and mobility. And the overall lack of investment is a barrier to economic growth for the region.

While the local providers offer strong service on certain routes, the routes are largely disconnected, especially across county lines. Job centers and regional destinations have been disconnected across Southeast Michigan for too long. It is time to connect our four counties and connect our communities.

The lack of connected regional transit is partially due to Southeast Michigan investing significantly less per capita ($69) in regional transit than any other comparable region. Existing providers are doing the best they can, but they are significantly underfunded.

What is the Regional Master Transit Plan?

The Regional Master Transit Plan — on the ballot November 8, 2016 — is a detailed, comprehensive regional transit plan that finally connects Southeast Michigan’s four counties — Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne — with reliable regional public transit to increase independence for seniors and people with disabilities, get people to work, and boost economic development.

Why should I support the Regional Master Transit Plan?

Details of the Regional Master Transit Plan can be found here.

All four counties — Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne — and their residents will benefit from connected regional public transit. Regional transit connects people to jobs, opportunities, healthcare, and much more. There is a proven record of economic return on investment for transit development that could help Southeast Michigan leverage billions in economic development, as well as the ability to attract new businesses – and the jobs that come with them.

The Regional Master Transit Plan will also improve specialized door-to-door transportation services (known as paratransit), demand response, and mobility management programs to help assist seniors and people with disabilities throughout the region. Connecting Southeast Michigan’s four counties with reliable regional transit will improve quality of life, spur economic development, attract new companies and jobs, give seniors and people with disabilities more independence, connect people to jobs, and attract and retain young talent.

Vote YES for Regional Transit to help people – seniors, people with disabilities, employees, the jobless, employers and students – who struggle every day to get where they need to go.

Will the Regional Transit proposal create jobs in Southeast Michigan?

The Regional Master Transit Plan is expected to support the creation of nearly 68,000 new jobs in Southeast Michigan over the next 20 years. The plan also connects nearly 2 million existing jobs to employees and job seekers throughout the four counties.

In addition to supporting existing jobs by improving connections across the four counties, the master plan will create short-term construction jobs and long-term operation and maintenance jobs in the region.

How will the Regional Master Transit Plan impact current local providers?

Our region’s current local transit providers will not be replaced; rather, the RTA will work with them to coordinate regional service to strengthen and improve the frequency, reliability and connectivity of transit services across all four counties.

For example, coordination between the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) and the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) is already occurring. Two new express lines along Woodward and Gratiot, which will be operated under a relationship between the two providers, are a first step toward connecting Southeast Michigan’s counties and communities.

I already pay a transit millage. How much more can I expect to pay?

Currently, Southeast Michigan invests just $69 per capita in regional public transit — this is significantly less than comparable regions around the country. To grow and compete, Southeast Michigan needs connected regional transit. The RTA has spent over a year talking with and listening to people from across the four counties to ensure the best plan was developed. It will cost the average homeowner $96 per year to connect Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties with the reliable regional transit network we need.

Most important, the RTA’s plan builds on and helps improve our existing local transit services. A truly regional transit system cannot happen without them.

What guarantees are there to ensure money is spent responsibly?

A Taxpayer Protection Clause in the proposal guarantees against any increase, renewal or redirect of any money dedicated to connecting Southeast Michigan’s four counties, unless pre-approved by the voters.

How will parking be addressed?

The need for Park and Rides is incorporated in the planning process for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines and the Regional Master Transit Plan as a whole. The RTA will work with local officials at all levels, including local municipalities, to plan for the most effective development of these lots once the funding becomes available.

With the help of local officials, the RTA will be able to choose locations that will not use already limited parking in downtown areas, but still provide convenient access for commuters to the new BRT lines.

Is anyone left out of the plan?

No one is left out of the plan. Connected regional transit will benefit everyone in the region. Regional transit connects people to jobs, opportunities, healthcare, and much more. Of crucial importance to seniors and people with disabilities, the RTA is significantly increasing funding for specialized transit services by 33 percent. This increase will expand the flexible, on-demand, door-to-door shuttle-type services that promote independent living. No one is left out of this truly regional system.

Can communities opt-out of the Regional Master Transit Plan?

No, every community in the four counties is a part of the RTA’s Regional Master Transit Plan and cannot “opt-out.” The plan connects communities across all four counties — Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne — with the truly regional public transit network we need.

How does regional transit in Michigan compare to that of other major metropolitan areas around the country?

Southeast Michigan’s regional transit system is among the most challenged in the nation. Comparable metropolitan areas in the country have stronger, faster and better regional transit systems than we have in Southeast Michigan. That’s because Southeast Michigan invests significantly less per capita ($69) in regional transit than any other comparable city, including Chicago ($283), Pittsburgh ($232), Minneapolis ($177), Cleveland ($177) and Atlanta ($119).

And the benefits of investing in regional transit are being realized in these regions. For example, every $1 that Cleveland invested in its Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor resulted in $114 in economic returns — a total benefit of about $6.3 billion in economic development for the city. The line also helped create 13,000 jobs. These are economic opportunities that Southeast Michigan will continue to miss out on if we neglect our regional public transit system.

How can I help connect our communities?

Connected regional transit will benefit everyone in Southeast Michigan, but we need your help to spread the word! When voters learn about our key messages — specifically the top four key messages — we know they are more likely to Vote YES for Regional Transit. You can support reliable regional transit in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties by:

  • Visiting www.VoteYESforRegionalTransit.com
  • Following Citizens for Connecting our Communities on:
  • Attending or volunteering at a local community event
  • Hosting a meeting at your business, church or community organization
  • Sharing information with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, employees, retirees, congregation, etc.
  • Talking with coworkers, friends and neighbors about the need for reliable regional transit in Southeast Michigan.
  • Voting YES for Regional Transit on November 8.

Are there other opportunities for organization’s that can’t formally support a ballot initiative, but want to help?

Yes. A Coalition for Transit (ACT) will continue to educate residents about the problems facing Southeast Michigan’s disconnected regional transit system and what that means to real people who rely on it. Interested individuals or organizations can be directed to the ACT website — acoalitionfortransit.com — for more information and to get started.