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. These will be presented in October to the full Council.
The Workgroup is adopting 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:
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.
The campaign is far from done.
The co-chairs of the Mobility Workgroup will present these recommendations to the full Council in late October for the Council to debate. Then the Council will consider and provide feedback on recommendations from four other workgroups for the Department of Environmental Great Lakes and Energy to develop into the MI Healthy Climate Plan. The draft Plan should be out in January for public input and be finalized soon after.
So we can’t stop here. 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!
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