Jump to content

Detroit RTA

140 Southshore

Recommended Posts

Well, so as to avoid clogging up the already-existing AATA, DDOT and SMART threads with updates regarding the Detroit RTA, I created this thread.


RTA votes to hire Ann Arbor transit leader as its new CEO

The Regional Transit Authority on Wednesday unanimously chose Ann Arbor Transportation Authority leader Michael Ford as its first CEO, putting in place someone to oversee better coordinated transit service with local agencies and to plot a strategy to win a funding referendum in 2016.

Well, I wonder if he will try to take what he did over at the AATA and apply that to DDOT and SMART.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...

This article outlines a few things that will come out of the RTA's plans including express bus routes on Woodward and Gratiot plus the QLINE and the upcoming Master Plan.


I'm posting a few other suggestions for Metro Detroit transit:

  1. launch 24-hour service on SMART
  2. ability to connect SMART with Lake Erie Transit in Monroe
  3. expand the Presto Card to Transit Windsor
  4. a suggestion for the state of Michigan to create a Presto-style smart card for DDOT, SMART, the People Mover, the QLINE and transit agencies in Ann Arbor, Monroe, Flint, Port Huron, Lansing, Jackson, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Bay City, Holland and Muskegon. If Presto does expand to Windsor, make sure Presto and the Michigan smart card are compatible with each other.
  5. expand the commuter rail proposal to also include Pontiac/Flint, Port Huron and Monroe/Toledo
  6. more frequent service on all SMART routes
  7. outright ban any community from even attempting to opt out of SMART, right now opt-out leaves large population centers like Rochester Hills, Canton, Livonia, Plymouth, Novi and Woodhaven without any regular fixed-route transit (except for DDOT's Plymouth route to Wonderland and the Meijer, Home Depot and Costco stores at Middlebelt and I-96; and the AAATA's express route into Canton).
  8. launch additional SMART routes in unserved areas

What do you think of these suggestions?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The RTA is now planning to reinstate the stalled Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter train and if the millage passes hopes to have it in service by 2022.

It appears that they are now also starting to leak portions of the upcoming Master Plan.


Historical side note: the Detroit-Ann Arbor line was the last Detroit-area commuter railroad line to discontinue service, in 1984, just a year after the more-well-known SEMTA-GTW Pontiac train. By this point, the line continued to Jackson and was operated by Amtrak. This route began service in the 1960's with only a single RDC making a single daily trip both ways.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

And the proposal has hit a bump.


UPDATE: Looks like the Master Plan will now most likely never be implemented in our lifetimes now or at least it's heading that way, all thanks to L. Brooks Patterson.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

54 minutes ago, MaT said:

Cant read it unless youre subscribed to the free press, can you copy and paste the article?

Works fine on my end, perhaps you may have come across a subscription-related popup offer that can be simply closed by "declining it."

Here's the article anyway.


Top regional leaders reached a last-minute deal this afternoon to salvage the $4.7-billion proposal for expanded mass transit across southeast Michigan, officials told the Free Press.

Details weren’t immediately released, but Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel confirmed a deal has been reached, subject to final details he declined to discuss.

"I do believe we have something that's going to be satisfactory to all parties," Hackel said. "I do believe we have come up with a legitimate document for voters to decide on."

Representatives from Detroit and Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties worked out the deal during a meeting this afternoon at the Detroit Athletic Club downtown.

The agreement means the proposed 1.2-mill, 20-year transit plan is likely to go before voters in November. That was in doubt last week after concerns raised by Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson and Hackel left the board of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan unable to come up with the votes to put the millage on the ballot.

“I am satisfied that the accord we reached today not only offers something for our 40 communities and over half a million residents previously left out of the transit plan, but also incorporates the necessary protections we were seeking for Oakland County taxpayers,” Patterson said in a news release. “I’m grateful to my regional counterparts who joined me in moving forward."

Patterson said the deal also resolves "the omission of an auditing mechanism to demonstrate compliance with the 85% requirement in the RTA law which mandates that 85% of the taxes collected from a county are spent in that county on transit."

“During our meeting today, the regional leaders agreed on language for both the transit plan and the RTA by-laws that addresses our main issues. Like President Reagan said when negotiating international agreements, we will ‘trust but verify,’ ” Patterson said. “Now, we are awaiting an opportunity to review the RTA’s ballot language to ensure it conforms to the agreement reached today.”

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said he appreciated the region's leaders "agreeing to come together and move our region forward."

"This regional transit plan will bring not only independence and opportunity for people all over southeast Michigan, but it will allow us to compete with metropolitan areas across the country for development and investment," Duggan said in a news release. "This agreement also signifies that our region is starting to move beyond a half-century of infighting that has served only to divide us and hold southeast Michigan back."

Wayne County Executive Warren Evans issued a statement late Tuesday praising the deal.

"After meeting with regional leaders today, I remain hopeful that our citizens will have the opportunity to vote on the RTA millage in November. While there are still minor concerns that must be addressed, our goal is to improve the public transit system in southeast Michigan," Evans said. " ... I remain committed to work with regional leaders over the next several days to ensure we get this important issue across the finish line and to the ballot for a November vote."

The board of the RTA last week scheduled an emergency meeting for Thursday to vote on a revised version of the plan.

► Stephen Henderson:Hackel, Patterson trying to build a wall in S.E. Michigan

► Editorial:Not again! Don't derail metro Detroit transit hopes for 27th time

It would cost the average homeowner $95 a year for a plan highlighted by modern bus rapid transit lines between Detroit and the suburbs along Gratiot, Woodward and Michigan avenues, express service to Metro Airport and commuter rail between Detroit and Ann Arbor, along with expanded cross-county bus lines and localized transit for outlying areas of the counties.

Patterson and Hackel had objected to the plan, saying it left wide swaths of north Macomb and north and west Oakland with too little transit service for voters there to feel they were getting any return for the taxes they’d pay.

Patterson and Hackel also had pushed to require major decisions about funding and deployment of services to be subject to super-majority or unanimous votes by the board of the RTA, rather than a simple majority. That would make it harder to adjust the current 50-50 split of federal funding between the Detroit Department of Transportation and the suburban SMART system.

It wasn’t immediately clear how those concerns were addressed specifically in the compromise. Hackel said he wouldn't discuss the details until he sees them in writing, a process that's still taking place.

Hackel expressed resentment today about criticism that race or other considerations played a part in the objections he and Patterson raised. He said the concerns were about providing adequate service to all of Macomb and Oakland counties and ensuring a better form of governance of the RTA, "nothing more, nothing less."

► Heart and sole:Detroiter walks 21 miles in work commute

► Stephen Henderson:Awful transit policy fails everyone in metro Detroit

News of the agreement left transit advocates relieved that a deal is now very close to let voters decide on the millage.

“I’m certainly optimistic, certainly excited they’re making progress and a deal appears to be in the works," said Megan Owens, executive director of the advocacy group Transportation Riders United. "Obviously, we’ll have to see the details. But if it’s something that works for all the parties involved, I’m hopefully we can finally move forward and let the people vote.”

The vote last week — in which RTA board members representing Oakland and Macomb counties rejected the plan — left supporters of transit angry. They said it put at risk the best chance in years for southeast Michigan to come up with a comprehensive plan for broader and more modernized transit in the region. Compared to other big metro areas around the country, Detroit has underfunded public transit for decades.

The state law that created the RTA requires that votes on a transit millage can only be done during years with large general elections, meaning that if the millage plan missed this year's ballot, the earliest it could be brought to voters is 2018. But the millage that supports the suburban SMART buses will be on the 2018 ballot, and it seemed unlikely that transit backers would want both the RTA and SMART millages on the same ballot.

“The idea of having to wait two or probably four years before we could try again would have been devastating to the region," Owens said. "Some people argued that it if we lost this momentum, it could have been another generation without effective regional transit.”

Owens said the RTA plan is widely supported by regional civic leaders and major employers who want their employees to be able to get to and from work. She said she's optimistic that supporters will be able to make the case to voters to approve the millage.


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Several of the agencies under the RTA umbrella will benefit from a new bike share program that will be implemented soon.



Hopping on a rental bike in downtown Detroit will be easier starting next year with the selection of Chicago-based Shift Transit to provide 420 bikes and 42 stations for the city's first public bike share system.

Detroit Bike Share is scheduled to begin operating next spring, the Detroit Downtown Partnership and the city announced  Thursday.

The three-year contract with Shift Transit was approved by Detroit City Council on July 22, DDP spokesman Nady Bilani said. Terms were not released.

The bike share program will provide short-term rental through a network of wireless, solar-powered kiosks planted throughout greater downtown. Shift Transit will provide the city with the equipment and technology from its U.S. equipment provider, PBSC Urban Solutions, which is based in Quebec, Canada.

The program is the result of a 2013 feasibility study done by the Wayne State University's Office of Economic Development, said Lisa Nuszkowski, executive director of Detroit Bike Share, an affiliate of DDP. Originally, the program was going to offer city riders 350 rental bikes and 35 stations, "but because of Shift Transit's competitive pricing, we were able to purchase additional bikes and stations," she said.


In November 2015, the DDP said the program was expected to cost $2 million to start and $1 million annually to maintain, but exact costs for the bikes and stations had not been decided pending bids from providers. On Thursday, it declined to provide updated cost estimates.

Nuszkowski said the Detroit bike program will require 10 new full-time employees. This week, Ber-henda Williams was hired as director of community engagement to help manage the program. Funding for her position came from the Knight Foundation.

No taxpayer dollars will be used, the city said. The program will be funded with federal grants, corporate sponsorship and philanthropic dollars, it said.

Shift Transit was selected through a competitive bid process by a team of representatives from the city and DDP. In addition to bicycle design, competitive price and value, and ability to integrate with multiple modes of transit, Shift Transit's team was chosen for its years of experience launching and managing some of the largest and most successful bike share programs in North America, a news release said.

"We are one step closer in providing another option for Detroiters and visitors to make their way around the city," Dan Dirks, director of the Detroit Department of Transportation, said in the release. "Bike share will help expand the reach of not only DDOT's services, but other transit modes as well."


Bike share stations will be located in proximity to other transit, such as DDOT and SMART bus stops, the Detroit People Mover and the M-1 Rail's QLine, to increase the reach of these systems and enable people to travel farther using public transit. Specific station locations have not been determined. In the fall, there will be opportunities for residents, business owners, property owners, visitors and other stakeholders to make suggestions on station locations, as well as find out about membership and pricing options.

Helmet rental is not part of the program, but officials are looking into providing them at low or no cost, Nuszkowski said.

The title sponsor for Detroit Bike Share is Henry Ford Health System/Health Alliance Plan, which made a three-year financial commitment. The amount was not disclosed. It is also receiving support from the Federal Transit Administration, Michigan Department of Transportation, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, Hudson Webber Foundation, Kresge Foundation and John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Detroit-based Detroit Bikes LLC founder Zak Pashak was a candidate for the Detroit bike-sharing program. A May Crain's story reported he was working on the Detroit bid with CycleHop LLC, abike-sharing company based in Santa Monica, Calif.

Other bike borrowing options in Detroit include Quicken Loans Inc.'s program called Zagster for its employees, which it started in 2013. That program allows employees to borrow a cruiser bike and ride it anywhere around the city for 24 hours.

Wheelhouse Detroit, located at Rivard Plaza on Detroit's riverwalk with additional days at Eastern Market, also offers bike rentals and tours.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
  • 5 weeks later...

Millage numbers as of late last night with 89% of precincts voting indicate that it is losing heavily in Macomb County by around 20,000 votes with a very narrow loss in Oakland County. It's winning in Wayne and Washtenaw Counties, though votes from the city of Detroit still have yet to be completely counted, therefore, there is not yet any word on the final result. So if this fails, you can blame Macomb County on this.

UPDATE: Latest numbers have shown that this millage has more than likely failed. http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20161109/NEWS/161109846/regional-transit-tax-goes-down-to-defeat-in-tight-vote

It was a good run while it lasted...

Edited by 160 Downriver
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, RailBus63 said:

Not surprised that it lost, given how the Trump's voters turned out heavily while Clinton underperformed Obama's 2012 numbers.  I'd guess that Trump voters would have heavily voted 'No' on this question.

What makes this even more surprising-and ironic-is that of the four counties that had the proposal on their ballots, Macomb County (where the proposal suffered the biggest loss, as no votes greatly outnumbered yes ones) was the only one that Trump won (the other three, including Oakland, the only other county where the proposal also lost, albeit barely (yes votes won in Washtenaw and Wayne, as they are somewhat more transit-dependent than Oakland and Macomb due to the presence of the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and the city of Detroit) were victories for Clinton).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, RailBus63 said:

Not surprised that it lost, given how the Trump's voters turned out heavily while Clinton underperformed Obama's 2012 numbers.  I'd guess that Trump voters would have heavily voted 'No' on this question.

That theory doesn't hold up in heavily Trump supporting Indianapolis. Their transit referendum won easily. What I'd worry about is the politicians who believe that the future of transportation is driverless pod cars fueled by snake oil. Unfortunately Mr. Trump seems to listen to these people.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

24 minutes ago, patfromigh said:

That theory doesn't hold up in heavily Trump supporting Indianapolis. Their transit referendum won easily. What I'd worry about is the politicians who believe that the future of transportation is driverless pod cars fueled by snake oil. Unfortunately Mr. Trump seems to listen to these people.

While Indiana went for Trump overall, Marion County, which contains Indianapolis, voted for Clinton with almost 59% of vote.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, 160 Downriver said:

What makes this even more surprising-and ironic-is that of the four counties that had the proposal on their ballots, Macomb County (where the proposal suffered the biggest loss, as no votes greatly outnumbered yes ones) was the only one that Trump won (the other three, including Oakland, the only other county where the proposal also lost, albeit barely (yes votes won in Washtenaw and Wayne, as they are somewhat more transit-dependent than Oakland and Macomb due to the presence of the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University and the city of Detroit) were victories for Clinton).

Turnout differential, 2012 to 2016 (according to MLive.com):

Macomb up 16.474 (Trump won 53-42 - 4 points better than Romney '12)

Oakland up 21,121 (Clinton won 51-43 - 2 points worse than Obama '12)

Washtenaw up 10,247 (Clinton won 68-26 - 1 point better than Obama '12)

Wayne down 37,364 (Clinton won 66-29 - 7 points worse than Obama '12)

Those 40,000 or so lost Obama voters in Wayne could have overcome the Trump voters in Macomb, had they shown up.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The failure of the proposal hasn't stopped the RTA from proposing a potential third RefleX route that will cross the Wayne-Washtenaw border.



A rapid transit connection between Wayne and Washtenaw counties could still be in the works.

The possibility was discussed today during the first full meeting of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan board since voters rejected the RTA millage request last week.

Ben Stupka, the RTA's manager of planning and financial analysis, said establishing a transit connection between the two counties, especially the job centers of Detroit and Ann Arbor, would fill a major need for the area.

"One of our large regional transit gaps is that connection between Washtenaw County and Wayne County," Stupka said after the meeting. "We want to start to bridge that gap."

No firm details have been established, and it's unclear when such a service could launch or how much it would cost. The RTA would need to seek grant funding.

The service could be developed as an expansion of the RTA-branded refleX service, which is a limited stop, express bus route on Woodward and Gratiot avenues that connects Detroit to the Somerset Collection in Troy and Mt. Clemens. Or it could operate as a refleX-like service.

RefleX is operated jointly by the Detroit Department of Transportation and Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation — DDOT runs the Woodward line and SMART has the Gratiot line — at an estimated cost of $5.6 million per year. It began operating on Labor Day weekend and is expected to be a three-year pilot project, although it is only currently contracted through April. RTA, which was created in 2012, has a mandate to coordinate service among DDOT, SMART, the People Mover and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority.

Creating a transit connection for Wayne and Washtenaw counties in the near-term would reflect the comments of RTA officials and transit advocates who said they intend to continue working toward a regional transit system for southeast Michigan despite the millage defeat on Nov. 8. RTA Chief Executive Officer Michael Ford said he is "very committed to moving forward and getting something done" related to regional transit.

The millage would have funded the RTA's 20-year master plan, which called for, among other things, expanded local bus service, bus rapid transit and premium connections to Detroit Metro Airport from Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties as well as commuter rail connecting Detroit and Ann Arbor. It lost by a little more than 18,000 votes.

Paul Hillegonds, RTA board chair, noted the effort's "remarkable support."

However, he said voters in numerous other cities with more connected public transit systems than southeast Michigan had approved enhancements to their systems.

"At a time when Washington may be talking about new infrastructure money we fall back further in the line to take advantage of funding that goes beyond this region, and it just gives me, and I hope all of us, a great sense of urgency about the need to finish the task we've embarked on," Hillegonds said.

The next opportunity for the RTA to place a millage request on the ballot will be in 2018. Officials said they would be speaking with stakeholders and analyzing the election results in coming months as well as planning a retreat for board members. However, there was also a suggestion that the RTA talk not just to supporters but also to those who voted against the millage.

About half a dozen members of the public, including transit advocates, offered comments in support of the RTA plan, although the board was urged to make sure residents understand it in the future. Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United, said residents had demonstrated more support for a regional transit plan than they have in decades.

"This is far from over," she said.

But Jim Casha, an RTA critic from Norwich, Ontario, called the entire process a sham.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 years later...

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now

  • Create New...