Interactive Annual Meeting on Community Engagement

Thank you to everyone who came out for TRU’s 2015 Annual Meeting. Special thanks to the Wayne State Law School’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights for co-sponsoring and hosting the event.

The program included three major components, which are detailed below:

  1. Elections to TRU’s Board of Directors 
  2. The State of the Region’s Transit presentation by Executive Director Megan Owens
  3. A presentation and discussion of Community Engagement in Transit Decision-Making led by Assistant Director Ruth Johnson
Prof Hammer
Professor Peter Hammer explains that the Keith Center for Civil Rights considers all issues through the lens of race, regionalism, and reconciliation

A downloadable power point summarizes the welcome, introductions, and first two sections.

TRU’s Board Chair Kelly Logan opened the meeting and Professor Peter Hammer welcomed everyone to the Wayne State Law Center for Civil Rights.



TRU’s Business Meeting

The business meeting portion of the event was led by Board member David Norwood, who explained the role of the Board of Directors:

As a nonprofit organization, we work on behalf of our members and the broader community. The Board of Directors is the group of people that is legally responsible for the organization.

TRUs 2013 Board of Directors debates plans and priorities
TRU Board members serve 3-year terms prioritizing, supporting, and overseeing TRU’s transit advocacy work.

Dave then introduced the recommended slate of candidates to serve on the Board of Directors who were then unanimously approved by the members present. Thus TRU is honored to welcome new and returning (noted by *) leaders to our Board of Directors:

  • Meagan Costea *
  • Dave Kuziemko
  • Paul Lippens
  • Kelly Logan *
  • Martin Moore
  • Bob Prud’homme *
  • Michele Prud’homme
  • Ramya Swayamprakash
  • Shamsuddin Syed
  • Marcia Yakes *

The State of the Region’s Transit

The State of the Region’s Transit remains unacceptably bad.

  • DDOT still skips many runs, leaving thousands waiting in the cold
  • SMART buses are still limited in routes and hours, with large gaps in service
  • The region continues to lack rapid transit or a truly regional system

Yet as summarized in TRU’s 2014 Year in Review, unprecedented efforts are underway to make substantive improvements:

1) DDOT Management Efforts

While it is taking far too long, DDOT Director Dan Dirks is tackling long-entrenched failures and taking critical strides towards improvement:

  • Putting security cameras on many buses;
  • Purchasing 81 new buses to replace poorly maintained old ones;
  • Improving maintenance to keep buses operating better longer;
  • Working to hire new drivers and mechanics, to re-train current employees, and to hold employees to higher standards;
  • Promoting a new smart-phone app for real-time tracking of bus locations.

2) Voter Support for Transit Funding

This past summer, voters overwhelmingly approved transit millage increases in the A2-Ypsi area and the tri-county SMART region. THANK YOU everyone who helped get those millage increases on the ballot and passed.

  • A2-Ypsi is already enjoying more frequent service, longer hours, and new routes connecting more of the community together.
  • While SMART has not committed to any new service, SMART is preparing to overhaul its fleet with new buses. Hopefully they will be able to expand their service soon as well.

3) M-1 Rail Under Construction

The M-1 Rail streetcar is actively under construction.

Once completed, this 3.3 mile streetcar will provide convenient attractive transit throughout our region’s busiest corridor, introducing many people to the benefits of transit for the first time. The construction may be a headache but the M-1 staff is working hard to minimize closures and keep everyone well updated about the construction schedule. It sure is exciting to see rails be placed back into the ground!

4) Regional Transit Authority Progress

RTA CEO Michael Ford answers questions from TRU ED Megan Owens at TRU Fall Meeting
RTA CEO Michael Ford answered questions from TRU ED Megan Owens at TRU Fall Meeting

The RTA finally has a great CEO in place, Michael Ford, who spoke at TRU’s fall meeting. The RTA will soon be fully staffed with a Community Engagement Manager and others. 2015 will be a huge year for the RTA.

  • They’ll soon begin planning for rapid transit along Gratiot and Michigan Ave from Detroit to Ann Arbor. Planning work will continue on Woodward Avenue Bus Rapid Transit.
  • The RTA will soon bring the full four-county region together around a Regional Master Transit Plan. It will combine and update previous plans and hopefully build some consensus about how transit can help improve our region. That effort will begin this spring and conclude in spring of 2016.

Each year, TRU_RTA_2015_Logo_PrimaryTRU hosts a Regional Transit Awards dinner to recognize and celebrate the great work of people working to improve transit. Please mark your calendars and plan to join us on May 7.

Help us recognize the true transit champions: make nominations for the Regional Transit Awards by Feb 15.


Community Engagement in Transit Decision-Making

The best plans come from having the most voices involved. Yet the greater Detroit region does not have a great history of effective public involvement in transportation decisions. We’re working to change that!

Effective community engagement should include more than just public meetings.
Effective community engagement should include more than just public meetings.

Given the great opportunities upcoming to help the RTA decide ways to improve transit throughout the region, we sought to help meeting participants be prepared to effectively participate.

Ruth Johnson led the group in a discussion that included:

  • Learning what effective community engagement is;
  • Sharing examples of good and bad community engagement;
  • Learning opportunities to get involved in transit decision-making; and
  • Providing practical resources for getting individuals and their communities involved.

We provided several materials to help people learn and think about community engagement:

Following a lively discussion, everyone was reminded to follow TRU’s email updates to find out about all the opportunities to get involved in improving transit.

Thanks again to everyone who made this event great!