New Regional Transit Plan to Connect Major Cities Across 4 Counties

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The Regional Transit Authority of Southeastern Michigan today announced plans for a regional transit system that would link Detroit, Ann Arbor, Pontiac, and Detroit Metro Airport across four counties for the first time in the area’s history.

“Southeast Michigan is one of the only major urban areas in the country without a viable, coordinated public transit system,” says Paul Hillegonds, chairman of the Regional Transit Authority of Southeastern Michigan. "If we are going to prosper in a 21st century global economy, we need to develop a transit system that better connects residents to jobs, schools, basic services, and the recreational and cultural assets we are blessed with."

Michael Ford, CEO of the Regional Transit Authority, says the so-called Building Equitable Sustainable Transit (BEST) plan will link Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, and Washtenaw counties by connecting the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, the Detroit Department of Transportation, the Detroit People Mover, the M-1 Rail, and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART).

Ford says there will also be studies of routes connecting Michigan Avenue from downtown Detroit to Ann Arbor, including a connection to Metro Airport; Woodward Avenue from downtown Detroit to Pontiac; and Gratiot Avenue from downtown Detroit to M-59.

A bus rapid transit line has been recommended that would run along the center of Woodward Avenue. An environmental review of the recommendation is in progress.  Studies of routes on Michigan and Gratiot avenues are scheduled to be completed by March 2016.

Ford says there will be a series of public meetings are scheduled to hear feedback from the public on the project.

“Effective public transit is an important component to a thriving region, even for those who do not think they will use it,” Ford says. “We hope to achieve substantial participation in the planning process from both users and non-users alike”

Two meetings are scheduled for next week. They are at:

Eastern Michigan University Student Center, 900 Oakwood St., Ypsilanti, from 1-7:30 p.m. Monday;  

Wayne County Community College District Northwest Campus, 8200 W. Outer Dr., Detroit, from 1:-7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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