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RTA takes a crack at southeast Michigan transit plan… again.

A map illustrating the updated transportation plan from the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan
Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan
The RTA's updated plan includes several popular initiatives from the 2016 proposal, including a rail line that would connect Ann Arbor and Detroit.

For years, the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) has been trying — and failing — to garner support for a coordinated mass transit system that would connect Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Washtenaw Counties.

In 2016, a slim majority of voters in those four counties rejected the RTA’s proposal for a public transit millage to fund the plan. Two years later, the proposal failed to make the 2018 ballot after board members from Oakland and Macomb Counties refused to approve it. 

The RTA recently released an updated plan that lays out its vision for regional mobility in southeast Michigan.

Megan Owens is the executive director of Transportation Riders United. She says that the RTA’s new plan has kept the most popular elements of the previous one. Those include a commuter train between Detroit and Ann Arbor, an airport express service, and an increase in the frequency of public transit options along some of the region’s busiest areas. 

Owens notes that elements of the new plan were adjusted based on concerns raised by some voters in the counties it would serve.

“The northernmost parts of Oakland and Macomb County, while they would like to see some transit improvement, they don’t see nearly the value that the rest of the region would,” Owens said. “So, if the Legislature allows it, this plan would actually include just the southern two-thirds of Oakland and Macomb County, along with Wayne and Washtenaw Counties.”

Over the next several months, Owens says that the RTA will be holding meetings in each of the four counties to listen to community members' feedback and adjust its plan accordingly.

The Regional Transit Authority will be holding a Regional Master Transit Plan Open House on Thursday, July 18 at the Traverwood Branch Library.

This post was written by Stateside production assistant Isabella Isaacs-Thomas.

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