NEW REPORT: Congressional Action On Transit Funding Could Transform Economic Opportunity In Michigan

A new report released today by the Alliance for a Just Society shows that if Congress acts this summer to fully fund public transit including operational fundsMichigan would see significant economic and environmental benefits. TRU is pleased to be joined by Detroit People’s Platform and the Amalgamated Transit Union to promote it locally.

For more than 40 years, federal transportation funding has been out of balance, with only a small share going to public transit. This disinvestment has deprived Michiganders of the frequent, reliable, and accessible bus and train service they need to get to work and meet other day-to-day needs. The result is lost job opportunities, continued racial inequity, and depressed economic activity for the state as a whole.

The disinvestment in frequent, reliable transit blocks economic opportunity for Black Michiganders in particular. Nationally, 60% of all public transit riders nationally are people of color. In Detroit, 92% of riders are Black and people of color. People of color who take public transit to work are more likely than their white counterparts to have commutes that take 60 minutes or longer, each direction.

Increased investment in Detroit, especially in expanding neighborhood bus service, will have transformative and immediate positive effects on majority Black and POC families residing in left-behind and disconnected neighborhoods – which currently have minimal access to essential businesses, social services, healthcare, employment, and education. It will address long-term divestment in public transportation in Detroit that has prevented access for riders and their families who rely solely on bus service.”

Renard Monczunski, Transit Justice Organizer for Detroit People’s Platform

Federal Investment in Operations Would Boost Detroit Bus Service

This summer, Congress has an opportunity to make an historic investment in public transit, including funding to put more buses on the road and more trains on the tracks. With $20 billion in annual transit services funding, Congress can help reduce wait times, increase bus and train frequency, expand service, promote racial justice, and tackle climate change.

“Right now, as Detroiters struggle to dry out from the devastating effects of the climate crisis, we need Michigan’s congressional leaders to make public transit a centerpiece of infrastructure investments. It’s an outrage that the bipartisan infrastructure bill threatens to cut out public transit completely.”

Megan Owens, Director of Transportation Riders United

Today’s report shows how this funding will boost transit service in eight metropolitan regions in Michigan. Increased federal investment would spur service increases ranging from 42 – 107 percent across Michigan’s major metropolitan regions, including Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Flint, and Kalamazoo. 

“This summer, Congress has the once-in-a-generation opportunity to make public transit work better for our community. This report shows clearly that such an investment would increase economic opportunity, racial equity, and help address the climate crisis. We need Washington to act, and fully fund transit. We cannot afford for them to miss this opportunity.”

Akshai Singh of Alliance for a Just Society

More Service Would Substantially Improve Access to Jobs

The report authors analyzed the impact that level of funding increase could potentially have on an average resident of the Virginia Park neighborhood seeking jobs on the bus.

The first map shows that, today, the average resident of this neighborhood can reach 9,873 jobs within 30 minutes on public transit.

The second map shows the difference that a 65 percent increase in transit service would make. With that service increase, the average resident of this Detroit neighborhood could reach 51,574 jobs within 30 minutes on transit.

Retention is the major problem plaguing The Detroit’s Department of Transportation right now; whether it is the drastic demands on a prospective employee’s time, the sometimes unsafe situations or the fact that it will take a couple of years to reach the pay rate in which they could start at somewhere else. We need personnel in order to increase the frequency and extend service into the communities that need it, so I stand in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in the rider’s advocacy community, for the need for congress to step up for transportation.”

Glenn Tolbert, President of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26, which represents DDOT drivers

Tell your congressmember to support it!

Working with the National Campaign for Transit Justice and Action Network, we’ve made it easy to urge your member of congress to sign on in support of this critical bill. Given that federal funding hasn’t supported transit operations for several decades, broad support is essential!

Take action today! 

You can use our use our sample language or write your own message – which is even more persuasive.

Then urge your friends to do the same. With thousands of voices all across the country speaking out, we truly can transform transportation!