TRU set a goal last year to ensure that expanding transit was a major part of the MI Healthy Climate Plan. And thanks to our partners, members, and supporters, we did it!!
On Earth Day, Governor Whitmer presented the final MI Healthy Climate Plan. It’s a strong start that will help Michigan move towards being part of the climate solution! We appreciate the role we were able to play in helping shape it, as part of the Transportation and Mobility workgroup and with additional meetings with staff.
Transit is part of one of the commitments in the Plan:
This plan lays out a broad vision for fulfilling the governor’s fall 2020 commitment for Michigan to achieve 100% economy-wide carbon neutrality by midcentury – the global science-based benchmark for reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the most devastating and costly impacts of climate change.Liesl Eichler Clark, Director
As its name suggests, this is a uniquely Michigan plan. It was shaped by a multitude of Michiganders with varied perspectives on climate change. We heard from environmental justice, public transit, local food, and climate action advocates; an array of business and labor leaders; academic experts and local government officials; and concerned residents of all political persuasions and walks of life. I firmly believe conversation leads to better outcomes. In this case, it has produced a bold plan that a broad cross-section of Michiganders can rally around.
Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy
The plan recognizes the importance of transit and other mobility options and the benefits they’re offer many parts of Michiganders’ lives:
Better public transit and an increased availability of walking and biking opportunities will also reduce harmful emissions and give residents better opportunities for exercise and enjoyment of Michigan’s recreational amenities.MI Healthy Climate Plan: ACTION IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO IMPROVE HEALTH OUTCOMES
Climate action will also lower costs for working families and small businesses…. Improved public transit will help Michiganders cut the share of our incomes spent on transportation and provide the 8% of Michigan households without personal vehicles greater access to jobs and other opportunities.MI Healthy Climate Plan: ACTION IS AN ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY FOR MICHIGAN
So what does the plan actually say about transit?
Transit and diverse transportation options – Increase access to clean transportation options – from public transit to electric vehicles – by 15 percent each year. Work with communities that are mobility insecure to set community-specific targets to expand access to clean transportation options. Increase investment in more efficient, cleaner public transit systems—as well as bike paths, walking trails, and other such infrastructure—to offer the broadest possible range of options to residents.
Transportation planning – Implement a Safe Systems Approach in transportation planning to work towards the elimination of fatal and serious injuries for all road users. Develop a transportation strategic plan focused on electrification to guide state agencies in moving Michigan toward our cleaner mobility future. Consider creation of a statewide electrification plan for transit.
Even more is needed
While the plan contains much of what we’d hoped to see, we believe it could still be improved moving forward. it falls short of truly transforming Michigan’s transportation, as today’s climate and equity crises require.
- The plan does not acknowledge the need to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled, which is essential to fully address the climate crisis. EGLE and MDOT should reconsider perhaps through greenhouse gas budgeting as recommended by the workgroup. Electrification alone will not get the transportation sector to neutrality.
- Land use planning is a critical factor in reducing transportation requirements yet was not addressed in this plan. Sprawled developments typically require motor vehicle use, making carbon neutrality much harder to achieve, while making public transit, walking, and biking less viable.
That said, we are thankful for the opportunity to have participated in this plan’s development and that you valued our input. We support this plan as an important start and are committed to working with the state and many others in speeding its implementation and future expansion.
Together we can get this done.