While I like to consider this blog a fairly early and often endorser of the upcoming vote to boost public transit in and around Detroit, the past month or so has seen much of the local news media get behind the Regional Transit Authority for Southeast Michigan’s Nov. 8 ballot proposal.
This week saw the release of an informative, easy-to-read report that wonks like me love but the public will basically ignore.
It came from the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, a nonpartisan research organization that does great work on important public policy issues. It offers a good rundown of the nuts and bolts of the financial and governance of the RTA, and it concludes that the 20-year, $4.7 billion proposal “would dramatically change the landscape of public transportation” in metropolitan Detroit by doubling transit funding and offering connections in communities that today opt out of bus service.
The report concludes that the proposal has the potential to spark economic development, help disabled and elderly residents, and strengthen regionalism in a region that has long been riven with city-suburb divisions and mistrust.
However, it warns that the proposal, which would cost about $120 a year for the owner of a home with a $100,000 taxable value, would add to a tax burden that is already higher than outstate areas (not that that last point is any surprise; we’re Michigan’s most populous region by far) and would leave some far-flung exurbs underserved.
Probably my favorite part is this, which is a point lost on too many people:
Beyond simply a method of connecting low-income individuals to jobs, public transportation provides a convenient connection to the airport or a way to avoid driving in traffic for the benefit of all citizens.