Interim WINS for Green Rides, Blue Skies campaign

After months of policy research and development, dozens of meetings to debate and discuss, and hundreds of comments and input (many from TRU supporters!), the Transportation and Mobility workgroup of the Council on Climate Solutions has developed its top 5 priority recommendations.

The Workgroup adopted two of our recommendations!!

Of the Transportation and Mobility recommendations, three relate to electric vehicles (#1, #2) and clean fuels (#3) and two focus on transit (#4 and #5).

Number 4 is a bit wonky, but it will require local, regional, and state agencies in charge of roads to start tracking climate pollution, address it in their plans, and prioritize projects that will cut climate pollution – like expanding transit.

The fifth recommendation is especially exciting, as it spotlights the importance of public transit in cutting climate pollution. Taken largely from TRU’s draft language, it directs the Michigan Department of Transportation to plan how to expand transit throughout the state, explicitly calling for increased state funding for transit:

Another positive sign: These recommendations were presented October 19 to the full Council and received generally positive responses. Next, the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) will consider these recommendations and develop the proposed MI Healthy Climate Plan in December.

A huge thank you to everyone who’s taken action to call for this, to our partner groups who echoed these important messages, and to TRU’s members and donors who enable TRU staff to dedicate scores of hours on developing and promoting these! We can all be proud to have gotten to this step.

That said…

The campaign is far from done.

It’s more important than ever that the Council and Governor hear how important these recommendations are. They can still be dropped or watered down at any point. So let’s keep up the pressure!

Join the call – Tell Michigan Leaders to Support More Transportation Options for a Sustainable Future!

MDOT’s also adopting some of our recommendations

Another positive step – we met with the Michigan Department of Transportation about their draft long-range transportation plan – the one that largely ignored the crisis of climate change. Following our detailed comments recommending changes and the letter signed by 30 Michigan organizations voicing the same, they committed to make changes to their plan.

While not finalized, they tentatively plan to include the following:

In response to the dramatic impacts of human-induced climate change … Governor Gretchen Whitmer committed Michigan to … reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 26% by 2025. Reducing transportation-related emissions is a necessary component of Michigan’s strategy. Altogether, cars, trucks, marine vessels, trains, and aircraft contribute 29% of total US GHG emissions, the highest of any sector…. If carbon emissions are driven down, there is still an opportunity to arrest the worst effective of climate change….

Updated draft of the Michigan Mobility 2045, MDOT’s long-range transportation plan
Draft text of the Michigan Long-Range Transportation Plan Mobility 2045, edited based on TRU’s feedback to acknowledge the role of cars in the climate crisis.

We offered many other recommendations, especially demanding specific measurable objectives towards expanding access, frequency, and quality of public transit. While they acknowledged that metrics for transit and active transportation are way behind that of roads, they are not yet able to set those objectives. They are first working to better understand and quantify what Michigan has today in those areas, then will work to set targets for improvement.

TRU will remain vigilant in pushing for the strongest possible targets to meet the mobility needs of Michiganders.

Words of Support from Lt Governor Garlin Gilchrist

In interviews at the Mackinac Policy Conference, the Lt Governor spent time talking about climate change and the importance of transit.

He talked with Stephen Henderson of WDET about the need for infrastructure improvements to meet the needs of extreme weather events brought on by climate change and the importance of public transit:

”When you combine that our infrastructure has been underinvested longer than I’ve been alive and then climate change leading us to have more extreme weather events … coupling these things together is what led to these catastrophes.

Climate change is real and environmental justice is real. That’s what we’re seeing the intersection of here.

“As a state we know [public transportation] is critical to our economic success … to better connect people and our communities. Public transportation that’s safe, reliable, affordable, – and actually goes the places people need it to go – is so important.

“You’ll see dollars to invest in updating and electrifying buses, to make affordability more of a priority, to expand routes…. We’re going to continue to make those kind of investments.

Lt Governor Garlin Gilchrist on WDET

He echoed a similar message when talking with Crain’s Detroit Business:

“This is something that is very, deeply important and personal to me and my family. When we came home to Detroit seven years ago, we made the choice to go car-free, we did so for almost three years, my wife and I with our twin babies…. It showed that there’s a huge gap, a disconnect, from a transit infrastructure perspective.

“There are so many people with ideas in Detroit that could have those ideas grow in Ann Arbor. There are so many people with ideas in Ann Arbor that could have those ideas grow in Detroit, and all the communities in between. That disconnect, the lack of ability for ideas and people and goods and services to move efficiently like that is a detriment to our regional economy and our state economy ultimately.

The lack of access to transportation and mobility [is] perhaps the fundamental inequity that we have to address right now.

Lt Governor Garlin Gilchrist talking with Crain’s Detroit Business