Posted 4 years, 6 months ago at 3:40 pm. 1 comment
* This is the letter that I sent to Mr. Hertel after reading the preliminary recommendations (see last post). To send in your own comments, e-mail DRMT2006@sbcglobal.net (notice the obvious time delay in getting this project together).
Mr. Hertel et. al.,
First of all, thank you. Thank you for persevering in a region that has doubted transit for so long. We, as you rightly make clear, need it for our future.
My first comment is on the Woodward light-rail line as it relates to both the TRAIL and DTOGS initiatives. It is apparent that the groups have slightly different plans, and that the private money is interested in a streetcar-type service whereas the public plan is a light-rail proposal. As you make clear in your recommendations, the Woodward corridor should have a light rail line up to Royal Oak (at least). I think that is important that Woodward has one line, not two, because simplicity and speed (the private plan seems to have WAY too many stations) will be what makes this useful for transportation into the city, and something that will serve as the foundation for the broader regional system that you have envisioned. I am afraid that TRAIL, as it stands currently, will feel like another people mover, a system that doesn’t solve the problem of commuting INTO downtown with stops too close together. Hopefully, the private money sees that an adaptable, regional system is a better use of funding. Light-rail, instead of modern streetcar, is a better base on which to build.
Secondly, although I had never heard of Arterial Rapid Transit before seeing your presentation, I think it might be a good transitional step in our sprawling region. I was skeptical at first, but it seems that if the corridor, the bus stops are substantial and attractive, and the signage is coordinated, it might be very successful. That brings me to signage and cooperation in general, because it is ridiculous that SMART and DDOT are not one organization. I’m sure you have thought of this, because a combined (legally revived) DARTA would be the only logical operator for these new DRMT services.
Thirdly, and I know that you want to be politically delicate here, funding I think has to come from a regional sales or property tax. As can be seen in other recent examples (Denver is the best one), this is the only realistic way to have a long-term funding source for operating expenses. I think the Detroit area would be willing to support a small regional tax, my feeling confirmed by the vote on the zoo.
Finally, I want to stress that this transit system NEEDS to be regional, with rail infrastructure stretching into the suburbs. As you all know and have experienced (and I hope most Metro Detroiters have too), other major U.S. cities take their rapid transit systems for granted, but know that it is something that they can’t live without. In addition to providing a transportation option and spurring development along its route, transit systems bring the region together, by having them all experience service from the same transit authority. Citizens see each other on the trains, and see people from all different races and socioeconomic backgrounds. It provides a common medium that, I think, can galvanize a regional identity and help to erase the harsh divisions of the past. This area more than most needs that.
Thank you for all your work. This plan will be even tougher now in the (even worse) economic climate. I hope that you stress that rapid transit is a key part of bringing the whole area out of a multi-decade economic stagnation.