License to live: A YES vote for regional transit

License to live: A YES vote for regional transit
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COMMENTARY

I was sitting there waiting for the press conference to begin when my cell rang. It was our photojournalist. His car broke down and he couldn’t get to the event.

Funny thing. The press conference was about the need for regional transit.  If we had it, he could have hopped on public transit and I wouldn’t have been taking pictures with my cell phone or even writing this story.

That’s just one lost job opportunity. How many more will pass before we get onboard?

We can’t afford to waste any more time.

A car is a symbol of freedom for some. Isn’t it time we have a public transit system that provides freedom to us all?

DDOT and SMART have worked hard to improve their infrastructure, routes and reliability and have succeeded on a number of fronts. Yet, gaps remain. We need to fill them.

Jobs are at stake.

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Lizabeth Ardisana

“I could hire 500 people today,” says Lizabeth Ardisana, the CEO of ASG Renaissance, a staffing company that serves the automotive industry. “If only they could get to work.”

Ardisana and other employers like her recognize that access to reliable regional transit is inhibiting job and the economic stability of our residents.

The health of Detroit residents is at stake.

The average homeowner will pay $96 a year for proposed mass transit system we will vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

According to Transportation for America, 68 percent of seniors aged of seniors aged 65 to 79 in metro Detroit don’t have access to transit. That means 445,000 our moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas can’t get to where they need to go. And, that’s a problem.

There are mere miles between most households and world class medical, educational institutions and employers, yet many can’t reach them.

Keeping young people in our city is at stake.

bus-iconMillennials are the mass transit generation. According to the Michigan Municipal League, 40 percent of them say they use mass transit as an opportunity to work on their way to work.

We need to remember many of them are faced with paying off huge student loans so buying a car and all the expenses that go with it creates a financial burden many of them simply can’t afford. Add to that rent and “fun stuff” and their wallets are simply not big enough. If we can’t provide them with mass transportation odds are many will leave taking with them their talents, dollars and part of Detroit’s future.

It won’t cost us much to keep them here, help our seniors, provide jobs and, yes, make life simpler for all of us.

The average homeowner will pay $96 a year for proposed mass transit system we will vote on Tuesday, Nov. 8, according to a Vote YES for Regional Transit.

The Regional Master Transit Plan will connect more than 2,600 square miles, 4 million residents and nearly 2 million existing jobs across Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

Even auto-dominated cities like Dearborn see value in the proposal.

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Mayor Jack O’Reilly

“We’ve got to continue to invest in other forms of transportation,” says Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly. “Ford Motor Company recognizes that and has shifted its focus from vehicle production to mobility. There is a hidden cost to our over-reliance on vehicles from the additional fees we pay to build parking garages and public parking systems to loss of revenue our businesses face when potential customers and employees cannot reach them.

“Even Ford Motor Co. workers are not interested in driving long distances to get to work,” he says.

With hundreds of thousands of people coming in and out of the region daily and additional growth anticipated, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans feels that a more comprehensive regional transit plan is overdue.

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Warren Evans, Wayne County Executive

“Soon, there won’t be anywhere left to park,” says Evans, who worries that without a YES vote on regional transit that a shortage of parking spaces could impede growth and development critical to the region.

This is an investment, not a tax, says Westland Mayor William Wild.

“Opportunities should be available to all,” says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan.

I get that.

A car is a symbol of freedom for some. Isn’t it time we have a public transit system that provides freedom to us all?

Editor’s note: Jackie Berg is the founder and publisher of TheHUB. To get more information about Vote YES for Regional Transit visit regionaltransit.com

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