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Come to the Macomb County Commission meeting tonight at 7pm to hear from SMART and provide your input!

Or contact your county commissioner to urge their support for increased SMART funding!


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Dear Supporter,

I've got several transit updates for you today, including potential for increased SMART funding, a backdoor solution to the RTA's funding needs, and lots of transit in the news. Read on . . .

Counties Debate SMART Millage Increase, Potential for New Service?

SMART provides an essential service, connecting people to jobs, job training, doctors, and more. However SMART does not have the funding it needs to meet our community’s transportation needs. Between declining property values, declining state and federal support, and increasing costs, SMART has not been able to even maintain service levels, let alone provide the expanded service that riders and employers need. 

TRU is urging County Commissioners to let voters support an increased SMART millage on the ballot this August.

Why? (more details online)

  1. Because SMART provides essential service to its riders and enormous benefits to the community.
  2. Because more service is needed, yet SMART lacks sufficient funding.
  3. Because the RTA won’t take over major regional routes for several years.
  4. And because the public strongly supports transit and should have the right to vote on an increase.

TRU recommends a 1.8 mil property tax on the August 2014 ballot, enabling SMART to overhaul its aging bus fleet plus expand service hours and routes. TRU would also support a 1.0 mil tax rate, which would not allow for the transit expansion the region needs, it should enable some restoration of service and improvement of the ancient bus fleet.

SMART still needs to publicly detail the improvements they would make with increased funding, however the development of that plan should NOT delay the necessary actions to get an increase on the ballot. Each county must vote before the end of April to place the SMART millage on the August ballot.

The Macomb County Commission will hear from SMART General Manager John Hertel this evening at 7pm. Come join the discussion! 

RTA Update: Legislature Rejects RTA Funding Request, But Pledges Interim and Future Funding

State leaders found a backdoor way to provide the RTA the funding necessary to hire a new CEO and staff. The Michigan Senate supported a $2 million supplemental appropriation for the RTA, but the House opposed it. Ultimately the supplemental passed without the RTA funding. However, the Governor and legislative leadership have committed to $900,000 from current funds and another $1.1 million in the 2014-15 budget that will be debated this summer. 

Thank you to everyone who sent emails to the legislature. We clearly got their attention! While it is not money in the bank today, if the legislators follow through, it should be enough to fund the RTA’s staff and operations through 2016.

Also, applications for the new RTA CEO are due in tomorrow, with interviews over the next month and a CEO in place by early summer. The RTA Board is slowly proceeding toward updating the Regional Transit Plan and planning the first three rapid transit lines. The RTA’s progress is not exciting nor quick, but important and moving in the right direction.

A Busy Week for Detroit Area Transit News

– Wall Street JournalDetroit’s Broken Buses Vex a Broke City

– Metro Times cover story: How Detroit ended up with the worst public transit

– metromodeThree Common Sense Solutions for Local Transit (That Metro Detroit Isn’t Doing)

– Detroit NewsDetroit looking at options for bus service

– Detroit News$6.3M dose of cold reality: Troy Transit Center sits empty amid dispute

– WDET newsCan Detroit use Mass Transit to Attract Big Business? Expert says Yes

Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates!

Thanks,    

                      Megan

PS - You are subscribed to Transportation Riders United's email list. TRU is Detroit's nonprofit transit advocate, working since 1999 to improve bus service, remove barriers to rapid transit, and advocate for smart transportation investments.

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