Announcing the 2017 Regional Transit Awardees!

Many people undertook extraordinary efforts and diligent hard work to improve transit throughout the greater Detroit area over the past year. That is why TRU is hosting the sixth annual Regional Transit Awards dinner to bring together the region’s transit community to celebrate the extraordinary people and projects working to improve transit throughout the greater Detroit area. Four individuals and one project will be awarded this year.

Please join us in congratulating the 2017 Regional Transit Awardees:

Forward Motion Award for Most Effective Public Servant: Warren Evans, Wayne County Executive

Warren Evans championed a regional transit Yes vote in Nov 2016
Warren Evans championed a regional transit Yes vote in Nov 2016

Elected officials, appointees, and other public servants play an essential role in leading and making tough decisions that can drastically improve (or harm) our public transit system throughout Greater Detroit. This award recognizes those champions who make a real difference.

Previous award winners have included State Senators Tom Casperson and Bert Johnson, Ferndale Councilwoman Melanie Piana, and Senior Adviser for Strategy for the Governor of Michigan, Dennis Schornack.

Mr. Evans was nominated for consistent vocal support of regional transit, throughout the 2016 campaign, in his 2017 State of the County address, and elsewhere. Nominators also applauded his efforts to encourage transit ridership by offering bus passes to County employees, which tripled employee ridership in its first month.


Exemplary Innovation Award: RefleX

RefleX provides seamless express bus service linking Detroit with Oakland and Macomb Counties
RefleX provides seamless express bus service linking Detroit with Oakland and Macomb Counties

Creating a great regional transit system requires fresh ideas that lead to new ways of making transit more accessible, more functional and more uniquely our own. This award recognizes the intrepid agencies, organizations, and entrepreneurs who have explored and implemented innovative ideas to restore Detroit as a transit leader.

Previous award winners have included AirRide (by AAATA and Indian Trails), myride2 (by Area Agency on Aging 1b), PEAC, and the WSU Office of Economic Development.

RefleX was nominated for addressing a major gap in regional transit service by providing seamless cross-county express transit 7 days a week. As RefleX is a joint project of the RTA, SMART, and DDOT, this award will be jointly accepted by all three.


Unsung Hero: Alexis Blizman

Alexis Blizman helped lead the Vote Yes for Regional Transit field campaign
Alexis Blizman (second from left) effectively promoted regional transit in Washtenaw and Oakland Counties.

Activists, benefactors, and others who work hard to effect change often labor with little recognition for their efforts. This award highlights the contributions of those persistent individuals who work outside the public spotlight performing essential, and often unseen services to catalyze change and meaningfully improve the transit landscape in Metro Detroit.

Previous award winners have included former State Representative Marie Donigan, MOSES leader Cindy Reese, Harriet Tubman Center leader Rev. Louise Ott, and Motor City Freedom Rider founder Joel Batterman.

Alexis was nominated for her campaign smarts, transit passion, and diligent hard work in support of both regional and Washtenaw County transit funding efforts. Alexis works as Legislative and Policy Director for the Ecology Center, leads Washtenaw Partners for Transit, and helped lead the Vote Yes for Regional Transit field campaign.


Transit Employee of the Year: Ben Stupka

This award recognizes a transit employee – a driver, planner, mechanic, manager, or someone else – who has gone above and beyond to make Detroit area transit more efficient and attractive to riders and the region. 

Previous award winners have included SMART’s ADA Coordinator Michael Patten; DDOT drivers Michael Childs, David Glenn, and Dejuan Brown; and the Detroit People Mover’s Cornelius Henry.

Manager of Planning and Financial Analysis for the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan, Ben was nominated for effectively managing four major transit planning projects (the Regional Transit Master Plan and Rapid Transit projects along the Woodward, Gratiot, and Michigan Avenue corridors) simultaneously on a tight timeline while addressing many competing interests.


Transit Activist of the Year: Daniel Duane Spyker

Daniel was among the first to speak out in TRUs #TransitMatters campaign in 2015
Daniel was among the first to speak out in TRUs #TransitMatters campaign in 2015

The importance of persistent advocacy at the individual level is difficult to overstate. There are many people who care about this issue and work hard to effect change, often laboring for years with little recognition for their effort. It is their persistence and contribution, however, that often keeps the spotlight focused where it is needed and thereby catalyzes change.

Previous award winners have included Patty Fedewa, Neil Greenberg, and Lisa Franklin.

For his many years of passionate volunteer work and tremendous growth as a transit advocate and ambassador. Daniel is a volunteer on the constituents advisory board of Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority, coordinating transit advocacy efforts within the mental health community and beyond


Visit for more information about these extraordinary people and projects.

These awards will be presented at TRU’s sixth annual Regional Transit Awards dinner on Thursday evening, May 11, at the Greektown Casino Hotel Ballroom in downtown Detroit. Each year over 150 transit staff, elected leaders, community activists and other supporters come together for a cocktail reception, 3-course dinner and Award Ceremony recognizing our region’s top transit champions. Tickets are no longer available. Donations in support of TRU and this event are always welcome!