It’s going to be interesting the next few months. Ever since the James Robertson “Walking Man” story broke – the national media is finding various stories of Detroiters who have epic commutes to get to work.

The story above is from the Associated Press, and highlights restaurant hostess Alison Norris who has a two-hour commute each way from Detroit to Troy for a job that pays $8.20 an hour.

Not to mention, we come to find out that James Robertson, The Walking Man, walked himself out of the city and into the suburbs at the Detroit Policy Conference, according to Charlie LeDuff.

There are bright spots and balance; the piece mentions Andra Rush, who is hiring hundreds at her factory and has put many Detroiters to work. She’s making a great contribution, but the reality is that there are far too few Andras in the city to have a shot of employing all the Alisons out there right now.

When we were at the Detroit Policy Conference last week, we attended a panel on transit and found it to be disappointing. Although we do need to rally around the new Regional Transit Authority, focusing on the “millage millage millage” isn’t going to be the answer to get a solution passed. The RTA needs to work with SMART and DDOT (the suburban and city bus systems) to make some low- to no-cost changes now and have early wins to show their efficacy, such as route and schedule coordination.

Just asking for dollars without a track record won’t play well with voters across the region.

Thing is, this attention about transit is deserved. It’s completely folly to think we’re a world-class, or even have a chance at being a top city or region in the United States, without a real, coordinated mass transit system that works.

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