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Bing: High-speed buses step toward "regional cooperation"

An artists' rendering of the now-canceled Woodward Light Rail project
An artists' rendering of the now-canceled Woodward Light Rail project

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says plans for light rail in the city are being scrapped in favor of a regional rapid transit bus system.

Bus rapid transit is usually more efficient and faster than regular city bus services.

Years of planning and millions of dollars went into the proposal to run a light rail line up Woodward Avenue, from downtown Detroit to the city limits.

But Bing says he’s been talking with Obama administration officials, Governor Snyder, and other southeast Michigan leaders over the past several months.

And they decided the light rail plan didn’t meet the region’s true transportation needs.

“Everybody came to the conclusion that the quickest way to do this, the cheapest way to do this, and the most effective way to do this was to combine all of these communities together,” Bing said. “There are 22 communities now that will have bus service from a regional transportation system.”

“When close to 60 percent of employees in the city [have] jobs outside the city…they need transportation to where their jobs are,” Bing added.

Some people are not too happy with the decision, including members of Michigan’s Congressional delegation, and the group of private investors who had backed the Woodward rail project.

Lawmakers in Lansing are working on a plan to create a Regional Transit Authority for southeast Michigan. That authority would fund and operate the new bus system.

A spokesman for State Sen. Tom Casperson (R-Escanaba) said this week that plan should be introduced in the “very near future.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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