Tell Michigan Leaders to finally make big investments in transit!

As President Biden has often said, “Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.”

Yet for decades, Michigan’s budgets have neglected public transit, rail, and active transportation, leaving Michiganders out in the cold. New legislative leaders must make bold new investments in affordable, sustainable transportation choices.

Budget update 6/28: We won!

June 28, the Michigan House and Senate passed the 2023-24 state budget, including a much-needed funding boost for public transit! After decades of disinvestment, we’ve been fighting hard for more funding for local bus operating (LBO) – and thanks to 1400+ messages to legislators and some great transit champions, we won an increase from $201 million last year to $261 million next year!!

Read all about it, then:

Budget update, as of 6/3

The House and Senate have passed different budget bills and now need to work out a compromise deal. So whether local buses get a 30% increase or just a 7% increase is up to the six members of the conference committee on the 2023-24 state transportation budget: Reps. Puri, Morgan, and Steele and Sens. Klinefelt, Hertel, and Bumstead. They’re expected to meet within the next week to decide. So now’s your last chance to speak out!

Please call the transportation budget leads and urge them to keep the full $276 million in for local bus operating!

Or if you don’t feel comfortable calling, use our NEW online letter tool to email all ten budget and legislative leaders:

Then urge your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers, and bus buddies to do the same!

Note – we also strongly support the $100 million the Senate budgeted for transformational regional transit investments, IF it’s on top of the local bus operating funds. It makes no sense to paint a house that’s roof is leaking. Our state must solve the bus crisis and start building real rapid transit.

Budget update, as of 5/11

The Michigan House passed their budget Wednesday. The Senate is expected to pass theirs today. Now it comes down to negotiations among leaders of the House, Senate, and Governor to align the three budgets into one final spending plan.

We’ve got a real shot at boosting state funding for local buses by $75 million – IF we can convince the Senate and Governor to support the House’s transit budget. So we need all hands on deck over the next two weeks to push our legislators to do so!

Please take action now: call legislative leaders:

  • Call House Speaker Joe Tate at (517) 373-0857
  • Call House Budget Chair Angela Witwer at (517) 373-0822
  • Call Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks at 517-373-1801
  • Call Senate Budget Chair Sarah Anthony at 517-373-6960

“The final budget must include $276 million for Local Bus Operating – as the House budget includes” – to ensure all Michiganders across the state have equitable access to good jobs, schools, doctors, and more, even if they don’t drive. (Or add your own reason for supporting transit)

Also call your own legislators – both House and Senate – and urge them to tell their leadership to please keep that funding in! They are our most effective advocates right now.

Budget update as of 5/2/2023

Michigan’s top elected officials are in the final stretch of deciding how to spend more than $6 billion on transportation. The Governor, House, and Senate have each proposed slightly different transportation budgets, which they’ll need to agree on in the coming weeks. (More details on #MiLegTransit page)

TRU strongly supports:

  • the House proposal to increase state investment in local bus service to $276 million (!!), 
  • the Governor’s proposal to invest $160 million in Intermodal Capital grants, and
  • the Senate proposal to invest $100 million in transformational rail and regional transit projects

All three are essential since Michigan must shore up our existing bus service as we start to build transformational new investments.

Tell your legislators to boost funding for transit, including $276 million for LBO, $160 million for Intermodal Capital, and $100 million for regional transit!

We’re calling on Michigan’s legislative leaders to restore state investment in Local Bus Operating back towards its initial 50% by boosting LBO funding to $275 million a year.

This will enable transit agencies statewide to overcome the driver shortage and provide the consistent, reliable transit Michiganders need.

Transit is essential

  • To provide freedom of mobility to seniors and people with disabilities;
  • To lower costs for Michigan families with affordable access to jobs and more;
  • To create vibrant walkable places that attract young people and employers hiring them;
  • To minimize the climate crisis by providing alternatives to driving; and
  • To ensure no one is left stranded when they can’t physically or financially drive a car!

Driving should not determine your destiny, even here in the Motor City. Yet for decades, Michigan has spent 12 times (!!) more on roads and highways than on public transit, rail, bike lanes, and other non-car transportation combined.

Tell your legislators you want them to boost funding for public transit in this year’s budget. Specifically, they need to boost Local Bus Operating funding to 276 million to restore bus service reliability and start meeting the MI Healthy Climate Plan.

Learn more:

Michigan has long starved public transit of necessary funding

Part of MDOT funding supports transit, including buses, trains, ferries, bike trails, senior shuttles, and more through the Comprehensive Transportation Fund (CTF). Most funds highways, bridges, and roads through the Michigan Transportation Fund (MTF).

Local Bus Operating funds once provided 50% of urban transit agency operating costs and 60% of rural agency costs. After decades of stagnation, road funding recently increased, but transit was largely left out. Transit’s portion of state funding has declined as costs and needs grew and now the state funds just 29% of urban transit costs and 35% of rural costs.

Starved of state funds, some agencies increased local taxes; others can’t. Most local transit agencies struggle to hire enough drivers and provide enough services to meet critical demand, let alone expand and improve to attract new riders with great service Michiganders deserve.

Until Michigan makes the necessary investments to provide competitive wages and reliable service at transit agencies all across the state, other states and metro regions will continue to outcompete us for jobs and talent.

Michigan leaders must restore and boost investment in transit

The entire Comprehensive Transportation Fund (CTF) needs a substantial and long-term increase in funding.

The most urgent funding need is Local Bus Operating:

  • FY 2023 LBO funding = $201 million
  • Gov LBO Proposal = $216 million (7% increase)
  • House LBO Proposal = $276 million – a great compromise level
  • Our LBO Request = $300 million (50% increase)
  • Ultimate LBO Target = $340 million

The Governor’s proposal for a 7% increase barely exceeds inflation and would only maintain today’s minimally adequate lifeline transit services. For real progress, Local Bus Operating needs $340 million a year to fully cover the state’s half of local operating costs. We strongly support the House’s proposed $276 million funding, as long as it’s ongoing funding.

Critically, these additional funds need to come from the general fund or elsewhere outside of the CTF, most of which is also starved for funding.

That investment will stabilize and strengthen existing transit agencies so they can provide reliable, convenient, affordable mobility.

Then we can work together towards the major expansion into rapid transit Michiganders want and need.