Is 2024 the turning point for transit in Metro Detroit?

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Metro Detroit has wrestled with a lack of comprehensive transit — far behind peer regions, and even lesser ones — for decades.

Michigan’s competitive challenges are getting to the point where even those who are among the least open to change have to started to face it. 

Where top talent, young talent, are choosing other states because Michigan just doesn’t provide the basics many other areas that are growing, do.

One of those basics is transit.

But now there’s a transit caucus in the state legislature. There’s more voices in power saying we need to address this gap. There are plans to roll out a pilot for a BRT route. There’s a pilot direct connection from the airport to downtown Detroit, and expanded fixed route service in the suburbs. Oh, and a connection to Ann Arbor, too.

Can 2024 be the turning point for transit in southeast Michigan and Michigan?

I attended the “State of Transit” event by Transportation Riders United, and afterward caught up with Megan Owens who heads the organization.

There are a lot of bright spots, but some structural challenges remain.

I also learned changes in law need to be happen if we want things like light rail to ever exist here.

Because despite changes in the political map and a wider spirit of collaboration, it turns out the ghosts of Metro Detroit’s divided past haven’t left us and in some cases it’s making it harder to get things done. Those ghosts live on through policy.

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