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5 things to know about the new regional transit plan

The Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority unveiled its draft master regional transit plan this morning in a public event at Lawrence Technological University, where hundreds of transit advocates, professionals, public officials and interested citizens were invited to get a first glimpse of the proposed plan and provide comment.

Megan Owens, executive director of transit advocacy group Transit Riders United says the plan reflects the needs of people in the region.

"People say we need to be able to connect to jobs, and so this plan connects to places like Novi and Livonia and Rochester that don't currently have transit, yet have a lot of jobs," says Owens.

Regional Transit Authority Draft Master Plan. Source: Regional Transit Authority

Renard Monczunski, transit organizer with the social justice advocacy organization Detroit People's Platform, organizes bus riders in the city of Detroit and engages them in learning about the regional transit system.

"My interest is in seeing how this regional transit master plan will affect Detroiters, who comprise 85 percent of the bus riders in the region," he says. "We are looking for improved services… and to see if this plan is equitable for the majority African American, low-income population that has significant challenges using the system today."

Here are five things to know about the draft regional transit plan:

1. What will the plan cost?

To implement the plan, the RTA will ask voters in Oakland, Wayne, Washtenaw and Macomb counties to approve a 1.2-mill property tax over 20 years on Nov. 8, 2016. The millage equates to $7.92 per month for the average southeast Michigan household and is expected to generate $2.9 billion in funds over its term. Additional funding in the form of state and federal grants are expected to bring total funding to $4.6 billion. There will be no option for cities, villages or townships to opt-out of the millage.

2. What does the plan include?

The plan includes eight main elements:
  • Bus rapid transit on Woodward, Gratiot and Michigan Avenues connecting downtown Detroit with the suburbs. The service would run continuously without transfers and feature Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant level boarding and prepaid ticketing. The service would have dedicated lanes, signal priority and limited stops.
  • Cross-county connector bus service on major east-west corridors crossing county boundaries including 15 Mile, 12 Mile, 9 Mile, 8 Mile, Jefferson, Van Dyke, Grand River, Plymouth Rd. and Eureka. Cross-county connector buses mix with traffic and would provide service more frequently than local bus service.
  • New local bus service will include service in locations which currently do not have bus service.
  • Commuter express bus service including weekday, rush-hour service between employment centers; for example, along I-75 and M-59
  • Airport express service connecting Detroit Metropolitan Airport to regional centers including Mt. Clemens, Detroit, Birmingham and Ann Arbor.
  • Paratransit, demand response and mobility management for qualifying passengers with special needs.
  • QLine streetcar along Woodward between New Center and downtown Detroit.
  • Regional commuter rail connecting Detroit and Ann Arbor.
3. How will the plan be adopted?

The plan is now open for a four-week public comment period. Multiple presentations will take place in each of the four affected counties.  Based on public comment, the plan will be refined if necessary and then voted on by the RTA's 10-member board, who will also approve the budget and ballot language.

Residents will then be asked to approve a 20-year, 1.2-mill property tax on Nov. 8, 2016 to fund implementation.
4. When will the plan be implemented?

The plan will be carried out in stages, starting with express bus service along Gratiot and Woodward, paratransit and mobility management and airport express service in 2017. Bus rapid transit on Michigan and Washtenaw Avenues is planned for 2026.

See the full implementation schedule here.

5. How can I learn more?

Read the plan here or attend one of the upcoming workshops in your county.
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