Detroit News: RTA 'stuck in neutral'; march scheduled before Wednesday meeting

Feb 17, 2014 at 2:25 pm

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

It's not exactly a damning assessment, but the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan didn't live up to high first-year expectationsThe Detroit News reports today.

"... today, the Regional Transit Authority — still without a leader more than a year after it was formed by the state Legislature — is at a crossroads: Ask voters for money this fall, or wait until 2016 — giving more angst to mass transit supporters who are convinced the public will support paying for transportation improvements."

The transit authority, which meets Wednesday, is expected to address the question of how exactly to fund an efficient system. Some officials have expressed interest in holding out until 2016 to put a full-blown plan before metro Detroit voters.

The authority’s executive board recommended waiting until 2016 to put a plan before the voters in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties, a move the board is expected to support. But that could mean two years before the RTA has a dedicated funding stream at a time when supporters say it needs to be able to show progress on mass transit to convince voters to support a millage or higher vehicle fees.

Officials should expect a full-fledged showing from public transit boosters who plan to ask board members to reconsider a delay at Wednesday's meeting.

Faith-based groups and transit advocates, including MOSES (Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength), Transportation Riders United, the Sierra Club of Michigan, and the Metro Coalition of Congregations will press the board Wednesday to put a ballot proposal and master plan before voters this fall to improve metro Detroit's current system.

MOSES says it plans to ask the authority to hire an interim CEO, commit to a timeline for a ballot proposal, and bring the public into the fold for developing a regional transit plan. The march will begin at 1 p.m. at the Rosa Parks Transit Center and work its way toward the RTA meeting inside SEMCOG's office on Woodward at 2 pm.

More info can be found here.