Mass Transit is a foreign concept to most metro Detroiters. The “15 Minutes or Better” project is aiming to change that.
Younger people across the nation are clamoring for mass transit, and voting with their feet by moving to where they can take a streetcar, light rail, or other transit options other than driving their own car–the Motor City is no exception. Part of the hot real estate market in the central core of the city is in anticipation of the new M1 Rail streetcar.
The reality is that those living downtown are a small sliver of the regional population, and most in the Detroit area have little to no experience with transit, how it even works, or how it becomes a benefit for society beyond something useful as a tourist in another city.
There are major economic gains to be had for the region if it embraced transit. A recent American Public Transportation Association study showed that for every $1 invested in mass transit there are almost $4 in economic benefit.
Transit also has a key role to play, according to Tom Choske of Freshwater Transit, to help with one of the hot-button issues in the country today, economic inequality.
“One of the things that we’re really passionate about for transit, that we love about it, is that it really helps promote overall equity and equality. Transit is something that helps normalize the people who are wealthy and those people who are still struggling to get ahead,” said Choske. “By investing in public transit throughout the region, we can help bring people together and break down those barriers that have helped separate us so much.”
To help with that awareness and breaking down those barriers, Freshwater Transit and their partners in the “15 Minutes Or Better” has garnered more than 100 donors and are already more than halfway to their online funding goal of $15,000 to make a series of videos to make that information easily accessible. Their aim is to help also educate about what public transit is, and how transit is done in other areas, so that they can get a better idea as to what they need to do in order to make transit work here in the region.
Each episode of the project is going to focus on one aspect of what transit is, and one case study as to how it’s implemented on a personal level in other comparable cities. For example, they may go to Chicago and talk about vehicle frequency and how improving the frequency of public transit vehicles helps different people from all walks of life in their daily life.
Although the project isn’t affiliated with a political party, there is no doubt that “15 Minutes or Better” is looking to make policy change through their work. Their aim is to have something done by the summer of next year so as soon as people are starting to talk about the upcoming Regional Transit Authority funding proposal, they will have their content ready and available online.
“I don’t think it’s any secret that in metro Detroit that we’re divided not only regionally geographically, but that we’re divided in terms of our race, and we’re divided in terms of our socioeconomic class. Transit really has the ability to physically break those barriers down,” said Choske. “By investing in a system here, we can help start removing those barriers. We’re not looking to prescribe a solution, but through education we’re looking to help people understand and determine what that solution should be.”
To check it out or contribute, visit their Patronicity page.