State of Transit spotlights huge potential for transit progress in 2020!

Despite setbacks and struggles in recent year, most people at TRU’s State of Transit 2020 were optimistic about prospects for big transit improvement this year. Even more so after inspiring remarks from both the Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and new Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter about their strong commitment to ensuring everyone can get where they need to go!

The vital next step in getting great regional transit is persuading the Michigan legislature to pass amendments to the Municipal Partnership Act (MPA), HB 5229. TRU supporters have sent more than 150 emails to legislators urging such (you should to!!!). Dozens of attendees signed postcards at the event to urge the Senate Majority Leader to advance the bill – you can urge him too!

County Execs: This is the year we can get this done.

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans echoed his commitment to ensuring everyone can get where they need to go. He’s leading the fight to get regional transit funding on the 2020 ballot, this time with enough public support to win!

Transit provides a service for citizens. . . .

People want to come to Detroit. What many suburbs are going to find out, if they don’t aid the transit process for young people to come enjoy Detroit, they’re doing to end up losing population. People are not going to pay $20 to park every time they want to come down to the city. . . .

Some antiques my age escaped to the suburbs and never want to see Detroit again. That’s okay, but they won’t be around forever. There are people following them that have a passion for coming to Detroit and that’s going to require transit.

The MPA creates for us the opportunity to create a transit plan. It’s only an opportunity for a coalition of the willing to come together and create a plan. If the voters don’t want a transit plan, they can vote against it.

Wayne County Executive and leading regional transit champion Warren Evans, January 30, 2020 at TRU’s State of Transit event
New Oakland County Executive strongly differs from his predecessor in his commitment to bring Oakland County and the region together through smart investment in great regional transit. He spotlighted the rapidly growing senior population who will need transit options to remain in their homes.

I’ve been a transit advocate for a long time. And because of that I’ve been a fan of TRU for a long time. I’m so thankful for TRU and your tireless advocacy. It’s easy to get discouraged. But TRU has remained true to its mission. Even in the darkest days, you guys haven’t given up. . . .

If I sound optimistic, its because I feel optimistic. The stars are aligned. We’ve got real regional champions – Washtenaw and Wayne and the City of Detroit want to get this done as badly as I do. And we’ve figured out a way to let Macomb not participate now, and join later when they’re ready. We’re going to form the Coalition of the Willing. . . .

This is the year that we need to have to stay engaged, be louder than ever, engage with our elected officials, and I really think we can get this done.

New Oakland County Executive and longtime transit supporter Dave Coulter, January 30, 2020, at TRU’s State of Transit event

Strong progress and plans at DDOT and SMART

It is amazing all the great things that DDOT has accomplished over these last few years – new bus signage, new bus shelters, new buses, new technology. Since this administration under Duggan, DDOT has replaced 195 buses.

In 2019, one of our great accomplishments was DART – the Dart pass, the Dart app. It launched in May, we have seen an increase of a quarter of a million rides. Since the app launched in August, we have sold almost 50,000 passes on the app. We’ve already had 638 new downloads this month alone – its catching on. . . .

We want to make DDOT a system of choice for everyone. We started a new division teaching people how to ride transit, taking away the stigma that transit is only for a certain set of people. Transit is for everyone.

Angelica Jones, Director of the Detroit Department of Transportation

FAST just finished up our second year. It has boosted our system ridership 20%. It’s been such a success. If you have good service in place, people are going to use it. . . .

We’ve been developing a comprehensive operations analysis – SMART PATH. We worked for two years – we did on board surveys, online surveys, public meetings. We’re about to take to our board the plan that will be our roadmap for the next five years. Some are minor changes like route changes. We hope in year 2 to add our next FAST route on Van Dyke.

Also this year, we’re going to try a new concept called microtransit – it’s a small zone transit with an interface like Uber to help you connect to FAST routes and other busy routes from areas that are a little too far to get there. Along M-59 in Macomb County, around Oakland and Somerset Malls in Oakland County, and around Dearborn in Wayne County. More information and outreach will come as we more precisely what it will look like.

Robert Cramer, Deputy General Manager for SMART

Great opportunities for transit supporters to interact

The event was a great event for transit supporters to talk with transit agency leaders and elected officials both through formal Q&A and through informal mingling.

Changing of TRU’s Board of Directors

We were proud to recognize and celebrate our outgoing Board members – Tanise Hill, Sam Butler, and Julie Tschirhart – as well as to vote in several excellent to new members to the Board for 2020-22:

  • Stephen Campbell – environmental attorney with municipal and corporate experience and avid bus rider
  • Sharon Kelly-Person – workforce development professional and community activist from Southfield
  • Paul Jones – young professional working as Innovation Analyst for the Mayor of Detroit
  • Lena Pernell – Detroit educational professional and mother with nonprofit leadership experience
  • Susan Titus – WSU Social Work faculty, faculty union leader, longtime activists, and returning board member

Please join us in welcoming these wonderful new leaders!

Please thank our sponsors!

Special thanks to our sponsors, including SMART, Liz in Detroit, Young Basile, TechTown and others
This event would not be possible without the support of our generous sponsors. Please extend your thanks to them!

Thanks again to everyone who made this event great!