By Seth Kinker, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) and the City of Chelsea held a transit forum for the new Southeast Michigan Transit Master Plan in Chelsea on July 18 at the Silver Maples retirement community.
The goal of the RTA is to secure and manage transportation resources to increase mobility options, improve quality of life for residents, and to increase economic viability for the region. They receive money from federal funds through the Detroit area transit.
In 2016, a $4.6 billion regional plan was voted down, having support in Oakland and Macomb counties, but not in Washtenaw and Wayne. That plan was for a 20-year, 1.2-mill tax.
Since that time the RTA has worked with transit advocates, business leaders, and elected officials to review and update the 2016 Regional Transit Master Plan. RTA representatives have attended over 150 meetings and forums in the four-county region since the plan was voted down.
The top things that the RTA has heard as far as feedback included a public desire for improved frequency and reliability, modernization and innovation, expanded services, and a more seamless rider experience.
Matt Webb, Chief Operating Officer of the RTA, one of the presenters at the transit forum, said that to date, over 3000 comments had been received. Webb stressed that with the master plan being a living document, changes can and will still be made.
After requesting a meeting of the RTA more in Western Washtenaw County, the area was well represented. State representative Donna Lasinski was in attendance, local representatives from Chelsea and neighboring communities attended the meeting, and representatitves from transportation services currently in the community like Western Washtenaw Area Value Express (WAVE) and Washtenaw Area Transportation Study (WATS) were also on hand.
“I found the meeting very informative,” said Lisa Moutinho, a representative from Manchester township. “It is clear that the RTA have given a lot of consideration to our area.”
All were able to ask specific questions pertaining to their jurisdictions and what this new plan meant for them.
What’s in the plan?
- 15 routes at 15-minute frequencies 9 a.m. – 8 p.m.
- 15 new express regional services
- Faster commutes across the region
- Hometown service and flexible mobility
Hometown service was of concern to those in attendance, at one point the RTA plan did not offer residents of Western Washtenaw any incentive to vote for the plan when services would not be easily available to them.
Now, the hometown service is designed specifically to enhance that aspect. According to the RTA sixty communities outside the fixed routes will have the chance to design and implement local service that best meet the needs of their specific communities.
Some of these potential options include: dial a ride expansion, rapid corridor connections, homebound service support, ride-sharing partnerships (Uber, Lyft, etc.), medical campus connections, office park circulation, downtown connections, and technology deployments. Funding for these services would come through revenue generated in the Connect Southeast Michigan plan.
Below is a comparison of the 2016 Regional Transit Master Plan and the 2018 Connect Southeast Michigan plan. According to a Michigan Department of Transpiration economic model, this new plan would support 67,000 jobs, generate $6.6 billion in additional gross regional product, and $4.5 billion in personal income.