Regional Transit to proceed without Macomb County

For far too long, a handful of politicians have blocked our region’s progress on regional transit investment. This is in part because the legislation that created the RTA requires affirmative votes from every county to place a funding measure on the ballot. And it’s tough to get this region to agree on anything!

Today, transit champions from Oakland, Wayne, and Washtenaw Counties joined together to announce an effort to change that (see details in Crains Detroit Business and the Detroit Free Press). Please take a minute to thank these transit champions for their leadership! While technically, they announced state legislation that would amend the Municipal Partnership Act, less officially . . .

Today started a 3-county campaign to the 2020 ballot!

Macomb county leaders are satisfied that SMART provides all the transit they need. But Wayne, Oakland, and Washtenaw all recognize that providing better connections for more people to more places could hugely benefit individuals, employers, and our region as a whole.

Macomb can still veto a ballot measure placed by the RTA, so this team of transit champions looked for alternative ways to invest in transit. The Municipal Partnership Act of 2011 provides most of what they need, but needs tweaked. Rep. Jason Sheppard, a Republican from the Monroe area, has introduced House Bill 5229, which would make modest but important changes to the MPA so it will work better for this purpose. House leadership have expressed their willingness to move it this December.

“This is not a transit plan. This is legislation that could get us to a transit plan.”

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans

During this winter, they’ll work together to develop an outline of a plan, get public feedback on it, then modify it to best serve the region. While this is underway and the legislation moves, the counties will also develop an intergovernmental agreement to govern this partnership. By spring, all the pieces should be in place to get transit on the November ballot.

What made this possible?

This was largely enabled major political changes in Oakland County that placed Dave Coulter as the new Oakland County Executive and Dave Woodward as Chair of a transit-supported County Commission. Both have long supported transit expansion as essential for Oakland County and the region to grow and thrive.

Stay tuned for details of what needs to happen to get transit to the ballot and passed, so we can finally make the investment we need in world-class transit!