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Lack of Regional Transit System Holding Back Community Growth

It’s no secret that the lack of reliable regional transit is affecting mobility in Southeast Michigan. Disconnected from each other, the SMART transit company and the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) run on their own times and stops, often resulting in longer wait times and hindering residents without access to a vehicle from getting to and from urban and suburban areas for work.

“The lack of regional transit affects us all, not just one segment of the region,” said Laura Trudeau, managing director of the Community Development and Detroit programs at The Kresge Foundation.

Over the past 10 years, The Kresge Foundation has focused on improving transit to connect residents to jobs and opportunity.

Though improvements have been made under Mayor Mike Duggan, Rev. Oscar King III, pastor of Northwest Unity Baptist Church in Detroit, expressed his discontent with the current transit system.

Melissa Roy, executive director of Advancing Macomb, stressed the importance of regional collaboration to ensure all transit users receive reliable, affordable transportation.

That’s exactly what the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan is trying to do, according to CEO Michael Ford. The RTA is currently finalizing a regional master plan compiled from meetings with community leaders and the public to improve mobility throughout Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties. Ford said a draft plan will be released in May, with a millage proposal to support the effort expected to be placed on the November ballot.

The discussion was part of the “Connecting Communities: The Impact of Regional Transit” panel moderated by the Detroit Free Press’s Nancy Kaffer.