Free Press says MI transit “nearly in shambles,” seeks leadership from gov. candidates

In an editorial published last Sunday, the Detroit Free Press assessed the dismal state of public transportation funding in Michigan and urged gubernatorial candidates Rick Snyder and Virg Bernero to begin debating its future.

As the Press notes, the state has shortchanged transit for decades. The average state budgets $34 per person for transit service each year. Michigan offers a paltry $20. That’s abysmal, especially for a state that’s been so heavily urbanized for so long.

Michigan desperately needs expanded transit service. Unfortunately, the immediate question before the Legislature is whether the existing system will be sustained at all. “We’re at the point of dismantling it,” says Michigan Public Transit Association chief Clark Harder.

Despite the long-awaited prospect of light rail in Detroit, it’s all too clear that Michigan needs a sea change in transport spending if the state hopes to keep those trains running, much less the buses we already have. Are candidates Snyder and Bernero, with their talk of “reinventing” and “fixing” Michigan, willing to break with Lansing’s history of cowardice regarding our transit system? An upcoming post will take a closer look at their platforms.