Mass transit back on track


On July 27, in a post entitled, “Patterson, Hackel must stop blocking regional transit,” I said the following:

“It’s really not all that complicated; either we’re going to move forward together as a region, recognizing how mutually interdependent we really are, or we’re going to remain in neutral. This region badly – very badly – needs a functional 21st century mass transit system. The ‘Q’ Line, when compared to grown-up cities like Denver, Colorado, is little more than a muscular People Mover.

“Oakland and Macomb County Executives L. Brooks Patterson and Mark Hackel claim they are protecting their residents from a bad deal. Others suspect the true motive to be much more political. Political roadblocks sounds more plausible, but whatever the issue is, it needs to be worked out or set aside so that the voters can be given the opportunity to vote their conscience on the RTA ballot proposal during the fall. Hopefully their conscience knows that this region sorely needs better public transportation. This is not a Detroit bailout proposal, this is a Southeastern Michigan bailout proposal. Because so long as we continue to suffer through this ridiculous excuse for public transportation, making us the laughingstock of just about every other major city that long ago took care of its citizens, we can forget about considering ourselves forward-thinking.”

By Tuesday evening, Patterson and Hackel were apparently all smiles and back on track with the Regional Transit Authority (RTA), willing to support the ballot proposal that they had originally supported, then not supported at the last minute, then once again supported a little less than 48 hours ago. And no, I think it’s safe to say the very welcome reversal had little to do with anything I may have said. However it’s also safe to say that the extraordinary amount of pressure exerted on both men from some very heavy regional hitters to not screw this up most likely had the desired effect.

The RTA board met on Thursday morning at 9 am in a special meeting to seal the deal. Voters will finally have a chance to weigh in on the RTA proposal, although both Patterson and Hackel say they have no intention of actively campaigning for the issue. Giving the voters the option was as far as they were willing to go.

From the Detroit Free Press:

“After a near-death experience last month for the plan, it got new life this week when the RTA board at a special board meeting of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan in Detroit today agreed to place the plan on the November ballot.”

There may still be some questions remaining about the details of the proposal, but at least this hurdle has been cleared. The details can be hashed out later. Let’s just get this done.


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