It was 2 years ago that TRU, MOSES and other partners welcomed the first meeting of the new RTA Board of Directors with a birthday card, balloons, cake, and high expectations.
The RTA has done a lot of learning and growing these past two years, while also experiencing some stumbles and false starts. But it is now starting to really take off.
Here are some highlights of the RTA's progress and plans:
The RTA is now Fully Staffed
The RTA has now filled all five budgeted staff positions. In addition to CEO Michael Ford, COO Tiffany Gunter, and Office Administrator Ginny Linklater, they have added two final staff:
- Travis Gonyou, Community Outreach and Communications Manager
- Ben Stupka, Director of Finance and Planning
This lean staff will manage all the RTA’s activities, following direction of the Board of Directors, and in collaboration with the providers, consultants, Citizen’s Advisory Committee, and community members.
As Michael Ford explained when he keynoted TRU’s fall meeting last year, he deeply believes in the knowledge of the community and plans to do a lot of listening.
He and his staff will be attending community events throughout the region to learn what the public wants from our transit system. The Metro Coalition of Congregations is working with community partners to arrange upcoming events for RTA staff to address and listen to the public:
- Tuesday April 7, 7 pm, 1000 Cranbrook Rd, in Bloomfield Hills
- Hosted by/at Congregational Church of Birmingham UCC
- Wednesday April 8, 6:30pm, 8801 Woodward Ave in Detroit
- Hosted by / at Breakers Covenant Church
Contact Marie Donigan of the Harriet Tubman Center, at 248-505-2195 for more about these events.
Contact the RTA’s Ginny Linklater at info@RTAsoutheastmichigan.org if you’re interesting in setting up an event in your community and/or with your organization.
Major Community Outreach Coming Soon
These initial listening events are just the tip of the iceberg of what the RTA will be doing. They have engaged several consultant firms and are making plans to engage with all corners of our four-county region in a variety of ways.
Starting mid-May, the RTA will be launching a major public outreach and engagement effort:
- to learn people’s concerns, ideas, and hopes for the region’s transit system;
- to develop rapid transit plans for Gratiot and Michigan Ave; and
- to create a Regional Transit Action Plan that will map out steps to achieving the transit system our region wants, needs, and is willing to pay for.
TRU has committed to work with and support the RTA in these efforts. Stay tuned for LOTS more information.
RTA Advisory Committees Hard at Work
The Providers Advisory Committee brings together DDOT, SMART, AAATA, The People Mover, and M-1 Rail. They've been working together to:
- Develop and report on shared Performance Indicators(pdf),
- Develop and publish a shared regional transit map (see image right),
- Analyze options for an improved, shared fare card and fare structure, and
- Discuss other ways to work better together.
The Citizen's Advisory Committee provides the RTA with recommendations and facilitates communication and understanding between the RTA and the public. The CAC has provided recommendations to the RTA regarding:
- Meeting Accessibility
- SMART Boarding Policy in the City of Detroit
- Woodward Avenue BRT Locally Preferred Alternative
- Planning for BRT in Southeast Michigan
- And much more.
RTA Priorities and Plans from Here
RTA staff is also working hard to provide significant on-the-ground transit improvements within the next year, including:
- Convenient, affordable transit service to Detroit Metro Airport from Detroit, Oakland County and Macomb County; and
- Improvements in SMART bus service within Detroit.
By next spring, the RTA expects to have in place:
- Action plans for rapid transit on Gratiot and on Michigan Ave;
- Designs and approvals for bus rapid transit on Woodward; and
- A Regional Transit Action Plan that will map out the steps to achieving the transit system our region wants, needs, and is willing to pay for.
Next spring, the RTA Board will propose to the voters a way to pay for it. In November 2016, voters throughout the four-county region will decide whether transit is worth investing in. If all goes well, new service will be rolled out and construction on new rapid transit will begin in 2017!
The RTA may have started off a little slow, but it's quickly picking up speed. And it's gonna be a busy year!
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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