Opinion: Detroit Area Stunted by Lack of Regional Transit

Improved connectivity and reliability in the region's public transit could stimulate growth and help build a more vibrant local economy.

June 21, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Mysid / Wikipedia

In a piece in Michigan Advance lamenting the "sorry state of public transportation in metro Detroit," Rick Haglund argues that the lack of regional connectivity in southeast Michigan is causing major economic damage to the area. "Amazon, for example, cited the lack of a regional transit system as one reason why it rejected Detroit in 2018 as a site for its $5 billion second headquarters, which might have brought thousands of six-figure salaried jobs to the area."

Widely regarded as one of the nation's worst public transit systems, Detroit relies on "two unconnected and inadequate bus systems" that serve more than 4 million residents. "Local metro Detroit leaders have been trying for more than 50 years to build a comprehensive transit system," but efforts have been stymied by opposition to new taxes. 

But "[d]espite a lack of funding, there have been a variety of improvements to public transit in southeast Michigan," and the region "is expected to receive about $300 million from various COVID relief programs" that will backfill lost revenue. Ned Staebler, vice president for economic development at Wayne State University in Detroit and Washtenaw County representative on the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) board of directors, "said the RTA will begin an extensive public engagement process this summer as part of an effort to create a new transit master plan." The agency has "hired GUD Marketing in Lansing to conduct a community engagement process, which will include involvement of a variety of business, citizen, nonprofit, political, faith-based and senior groups."

Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Michigan Advance

Street-level view of sharrow symbol on asphalt with parked car in background

How Sharrows Became Cycling’s Most Hated Symbol

Originally designed as a low-cost way to encourage safer road sharing between bikes and cars, the sharrow has become a symbol of the lack of commitment to protected bike infrastructure in many cities.

August 2, 2022 - Denverite

A image of the World's Columbian Exposition overlayed with a picture of Keanu Reeves in the rain from the movie Point Break.

Keanu Reeves Set to Play Daniel Burnham in ‘The Devil in the White City’

Planning is going to get a new level of star power as a limited series adaptation of The Devil in the White City gets ready for television screens in 2024.

August 8, 2022 - Reel Chicago

View from middle of street in downtown Telluride, Colorado with mountains in background

Marrying Urban Identity and Economic Prosperity

A new book posits that truly successful communities have a strong economic base and a firmly rooted sense of place.

August 5, 2022 - Governing

Rendering of downtown Milwaukee sports stadium with soccer field

Sports Stadiums Bring Few Economic Benefits

While their developers often tout jobs and local economic development as benefits of major stadium projects, research shows these venues often make little impact on local economies.

55 minutes ago - Urban Milwaukee

Dallas Freeways

A How-To for ‘Freeway Fighters’

Ten recommendations for effective freeway removal advocacy.

1 hour ago - Strong Towns

Rendering of elevated rail ine

Miami Rapid Transit Project Moves Forward

The county completed the draft environmental impact study for a monorail and people mover planned as part of its rapid transit system.

2 hours ago - The Next Miami

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.