I am sure that like many people, you are ready for this election season to be over. The constant barrage of 16 months of an endless news cycle, the increasingly nasty and vitriolic rhetoric, and the daily reminders of the deep chasms that exist in our country, have all been exhausting. But one issue on the ballot this November, Regional Transit, provides all of us living in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne Counties with the opportunity to vote for something that can bring us all together. Regional Transit allows us to prove that historical divides and political partisanship will not stop us from moving forward because we know that connecting our communities will benefit us all and is critical to our future as a region.
So, as you cast your ballot on November 8, keep these things in mind and Vote Yes for Regional Transit.
Regional Transit will connect workers to jobs and allow employers to hire more people for jobs that currently remain unfilled. Currently, 92% of jobs in the region cannot be reached within one hour while on public transit. This means many jobs go unfilled, and people who want to work but cannot afford a car are denied access to good paying jobs. Regional Transit will provide connections to job centers that are currently not accessible by transit, including Livonia, Novi, and Rochester Hills.
Regional Transit will allow seniors to maintain their independence, even if they can’t or don’t drive. According to Transportation for America, 68 percent of seniors aged 65-79 in metro Detroit have poor access to transit, totaling 445,000 seniors. We have an aging population. Most seniors will outlive their ability to drive by 7-10 years, according to the AARP, but they still need to get to doctors and grocery stores, and to visit their families. Regional transit will provide coordinated reliable access to get our seniors to the goods and services they need, allowing them to remain in their homes and not lose their independence.
Regional transit will provide mobility and opportunity to people with disabilities. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, about 560,000 people nationally never leave home because of transportation difficulties. The regional transit plan will increase specialized transit funding by 33 percent in every county to improve critical mobility services for seniors and people with disabilities across all four counties in our region: Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne.
Regional Transit will create economic growth and opportunity for our region. For every $1 invested in public transit, communities see at least a $4 return in economic growth. The Regional Master Transit Plan will support more than 4,000 new jobs over the next 20 years. The gross regional product will grow by approximately $346 million, and real personal income will grow by approximately $244 million. Connected regional transit will also help us to retain and attract talent. A Crain’s Detroit Business survey found that 73% of millennials listed regional transit as their #1 wish for southeast Michigan.
Regional Transit will improve our environment. Transportation now accounts for over 34% of the carbon emissions. Public transportation produces 95 percent less carbon monoxide, 90 percent less in volatile organic compounds, and half the amounts of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide, per passenger mile, as privately-owned vehicles. Those who choose to ride public transportation reduce their carbon footprint and conserve energy. If an individual switches from driving a 20-mile round-trip commute to using public transportation, his or her annual CO2 emissions will decrease by 4,800 pounds per year. Public transportation also improves our built environment; connecting communities to help reduce sprawl, increase urban density, increase walkability, decrease parking lot construction and preserve valuable green space.
Regional Transit will improve our quality of life. The regional transit plan will connect residents to 23 colleges, 310 schools, 22 hospitals, 100+ grocery stores, 410+ parks, 47 libraries and to entertainment and cultural opportunities throughout the four counties. We live, work and play all across our region. Our lives don’t stop at county lines, neither should our transportation.
The Regional Transit proposal has the support of elected officials, labor, business, environmental, faith, civic and community groups. This campaign has truly been an effort to bring our region together. On November 8th, Vote Yes for Regional Transit to finally connect our communities.
Published on October 27, 2016