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Greetings Supporter. With the Superbowl and super ads over, time to make your picks for the Regional Transit Awards! But first read an update from the RTA on ballot timing and polling results. . . .

RTA Funding Vote Unlikely Before 2016

Yesterday the RTA's Executive and Policy Committee voted to recommend that the RTA put a funding measure before the region's voters in November of 2016, NOT in November of 2014 as we'd been hoping. 

Both Detroit's Lisa Franklin and Wayne's Curtis Ivery spoke out in support of a 2014 ballot measure, however the other Board members expressed concern that there is too much preparation that is needed before a successful ballot measure could realistically occur.

The discussion came up in relation to deciding the timing of hiring a new CEO after John Hertel changed his mind five months after accepting the job (but he never signed a contract or officially began). Posting the position, recieving and reviewing applications, interviewing and selecting a candidate, and that new CEO getting started is expected to take another five months

While the full RTA Board ultimately does need to decide ballot timing, this action makes it very unlikely. The full RTA Board will take it up at their February 19 meeting.

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 New Poll Finds Strong Support for Transit, But Mixed on RTA and Funding Vote  

New polling data released at TRU's Annual Meeting last week found substantial agreement with the need to improve public transit and support for transit funding, but mixed opinions on the benefits of the RTA and willingness to vote for a new funding measure today. 

The poll of 800 likely voters in four-county southeast Michigan was conducted by Foster McCollum White Baydoun on behalf of UD Mercy, advised by TRU. Preliminary findings show solid support for public transit:

  • 86.2% think Southeast Michigan needs improved public transit; only 6.6% do not.
  • 67.1% support public funding of transit through regional taxes and fees; only 14.3% do not.
  • If the election was held today, 45.9% would vote for an increased vehicle registration fee for improving public transit, but 42.6% would not. 11.5% were undecided.
  • Fully 29.5% are unsure whether there will be any benefits from the RTA and efforts to improve public transit; 46.6% do expect benefits, 24% do not. 

The respondents were not presented with any plan that would be supported by the funding, nor has there been any substantive education or advocacy campaign to gain their support. It is significant that two-thirds of voters support public funding through regional taxes and fees, including a plurality (over 46%) that would be willing to vote to pay for improved regional transit.

Clearly undecided voters will play an important role in the future election and must be reached through strong educational and advocacy campaigns.

Additional questions were asked regarding concerns and priorities about transit and funding. The in-depth analysis will be completed and shared in the coming weeks.

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Other RTA Updates

Two other RTA udpates:

  • The RTA finally held the first meeting of the Citizens' Advisory Committee. The group of fifty enthusiastic supporters from all across the four-county region have only so far had an opportunity to meet each other, discuss scheduling and travel, and put together a team to draft bylaws. But many in the group expressed impatience to get started quickly. Stay tuned for updates.

  • The Chair of the Washtenaw County Commission has appointed a new RTA Board member to replace Richard Murphy, who is not interested in continuing after has one-year term. Long-time Washtenaw County political leader Alma Wheeler Smith will join the RTA at it's next Board meeting. The former legislator and candidate for Governor brings an incredible wealth of experience and political know-how and the RTA is very lucky to have her.

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 Make Regional Transit Award Nominations and Help Make It Great 

Who do you believe has done great work over the past year to advance transit in our community?

At TRU's Regional Transit Awards dinner on May 8, we will recognize a corporate transit champion, exemplary innovation, the transit employee of the year, a unsung hero, and others.

Please help us find the very best people and projects for these awards - Make your nominations today!

The Regional Transit Awards team will narrow the nominations to the top four in each category, who will all be recognized at the Regional Transit Awards Dinner May 8, 2014. The winner will be selected by an independent panel of judges and presented at the Awards Dinner.

Also, we are still seeking volunteers to help make this year's Awards Dinner the best one ever. We need help recruiting sponsors, selling tickets, identifying table captains, promoting the event, gathering silent auction items, and more. Join us for a volunteer meeting this Thursday, Feb 6, from 6:30-8:30pm at 1515 Broadway in downtown Detroit. Or contact our fundraiser chair Meagan Costea for more information to to get involved!

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New website coming very soon. Stay tuned!

TRU has reestablished a Twitter account, @DetroitTransit. Follow us for frequent news and insights!  

Thanks,    

                      Megan

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