Motor City Reconsiders Transit

<p>After over fifty years without public transportation, new support for transit from Detroit leaders.</p>
July 25, 2008, 11am PDT | Tim Halbur
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A comprehensive public transportation system has been missing in Detroit since 1956. Since then, downtown and suburban authorities have been unable to agree on a system that would accommodate the metropolitan area, despite offers of assistance from the federal government in the 1970s. Longtime residents say that their leadership, fueled perhaps by racism, were responsible for the failure: "No one called me and asked me if I wanted to have mass transit, so I don't think you can blame it on the general population" said Brooks Patterson, current executive of Oakland County (which borders Detroit to the north).

Although bus lines in the suburbs have been successfully implemented in the suburbs, trunk lines between Detroit and outlying cities have been forced to close for lack of interest. Some leaders remain skeptical that renewed investment in public transit is a priority, or that it would yield the investment that others have seen. But other city officials see mass transit as key to attracting young people to the region, and a bill to fund transit using property tax is making its way through the Michigan house right now. After fifty years and twenty-three serious attempts to reinstate public transportation, Detroit residents are hopeful that rising gas prices and a renewed interest in the environment will provide the impetus for a new mass transit system.

Thanks to Franny Ritchie

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Published on Monday, July 21, 2008 in National Public Radio
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