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To compete for Amazon HQ2, southeast Michigan is developing another transit plan

flickr user Matt Picio
The Regional Transit Authority millage was narrowly defeated in 2016.

When Detroit joined the national scrum to win the second Amazon headquarters, a big deficiency became glaringly obvious.

Amazon wants access to public transit for that $5 billion second headquarters with its 50,000 jobs.

And southeast Michigan gets a big zero for public transportation.

Now we're hearing that elected officials in Detroit, Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties have been meeting to hammer out a new regional transit plan, with the hopes of going back to voters again in November to try, try again to pass a transit tax.

Megan Owens is the executive director of Transportation Riders United, and she joined Stateside to talk about the process of developing the plan.

You can listen to the full interview above, or read highlights below.

On how people are developing a new regional transit plan

“The heads of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties, as well as the city of Detroit, those executives have been meeting periodically for much of the past year, and their deputies meeting even more frequently, to try to figure out a regional transit solution that they can all get behind.

Back in 2016, when there was a previous effort, Detroit and Wayne County, as well as Washtenaw county, were all strongly supportive but Oakland and Macomb leadership were quiet. They did not actively oppose it, but they did not actively support it, and there’s a lot of concern that that may have been one of the factors in why it lost by a smidge last time.”

On decisions made in private meetings

“I definitely admit better solutions come from more voices involved, but I recognize that these leaders do needt o come to agreement, and the discussions I’ve had, they should be coming up with something soon. And they certainly know what the issues and concerns are in terms of how do we really connect our communities so you can get from one county to another, because our lives don’t end at our city or county’s borders, and yet be sure that people aren’t being taxed for something that their community isn’t benefiting from. So I’m very optimistic that they’re going to come up with a great solution! And there certainly will be plenty of opportunity over the next ten months to discuss and provide input as to how to make it the best we can for our region.”

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