RTA Update: Legislature Rejects RTA Funding Request, But Pledges Future Funding

This afternoon, the RTA Board met and shared several important updates:

  • RTA Board members Paul Hillegonds, Alma Smith, and Roy Rose went to Lansing last week and presented to the Senate about the RTA’s progress and plans. They also met with legislators and realized how little many House members know about the RTA and its needs and potential. The RTA Board discussed the need for ongoing education and engagement with legislators.
  • The Michigan Senate supported a $2 million supplemental appropriation for the RTA, but the House opposed it. Ultimately the supplemental passed without the RTA funding. However, not all is lost. The Governor and legislative leadership have committed to $900,000 from current funds and another $1.1 million in the 2014-15 budget that will be debated this summer. While it is not money in the bank today, assuming the legislators follow through, this should be enough to fund the RTA’s staff and operations through 2016.
  • Last month the RTA reposted the CEO job description with applications due March 28. Four have been received so far and top candidates will be interviewed at the April 11 Executive Committee meeting and potentially at the April 23 Board meeting. They hope to have a CEO in place by early summer.
  • The Planning and Service Coordination Committee has begun discussing the work involved in developing rapid transit on Gratiot and Michigan Avenue as well as updating the Regional Transit Plan. Hopefully they will get started on that work soon!
  • SEMCOG also shared that the Woodward Alternatives Analysis is almost complete and the project Steering Committee should provide a “Locally Preferred Alternative” decided by May or June. The next step will be environmental review and clearance, which they hope to complete with a detailed project plan by late 2015.
  • SEMCOG is also exploring with the Federal Transit Administration a TIGER grant application to support Woodward BRT engineering, updating the Regional Transit Plan, or other RTA activities.
  • The Providers Advisory Council reviewed proposals and selected a consultant to study developing a single fare card throughout the region, which should be concluded by late fall.

Not exciting or quick, but important and moving in the right direction.