I had the opportunity to give some comments at the October 27, 2008 meeting of Michigan’s Transportation Funding Task Force (TF2). Not to be a braggart, but I thought they were pretty good and figured I’d share them with you here:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Earlier in today’s session you heard from SMART in regards to a number of transit efficiencies that they’ve undertaken and you’ve also heard about the importance of public transit. Throughout your work this year, you’ve heard many comments to that effect, both form your own membership and from the Citizens Advisory Committee. As you move forward to the final steps of drafting and adopting your preliminary report, the Michigan Municipal League would like to share the following thoughts for your consideration.
“I’ll begin by sharing a quote from someone with you. The First Mayor that history records was a guy by the name of Pericles. He was the Mayor of Athens and 2500 years ago or so he said, ‘All things good on this Earth flow into the city because of the city’s greatness.’
“Our urban cores can be the engine that drives our economic turnaround. Using the current economic doldrums as an opportunity to truly promote redevelopment and future development based around transit. Promoting the use of a transit-oriented development philosophy in our economic and planning efforts will provide outstanding benefits. If it is true, that on average, there is a $6 return for every $1 spent or invested in transit systems, then imagine what will happen when the Detroit Mass Transit project gets Michigan moving? Building that project and using it a the foundation for a regional system will enable folks within 70 miles of Detroit to come into the city (avoiding NFL blackouts) because much of what is good flows into the city. If we do this, if we commit ourselves to making this happen, then our cities can be great again!!!
“In your recommendations to come, we ask that you call on the Legislature and our Governor to adopt policies that will empower regional transit of all modes to work in a coordinated way. The proposed Regional Transit Coordinating Council (RTCC) plan can accomplish this, as they work with SMART and DDOT and other entities. Adoption of local planning and funding tools that will allow for the growth of a regional system throughout the state will also be helpful to areas outside of SE Michigan as well, such as Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Cadillac, Traverse City, and elsewhere.
“In the end, a system that crosses all modes and empowers all regions leads to our future economic success. That is why the League has and will continue to push those policies that lead to the creation of that system. We join our friends in Transportation Riders United, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, and other in that call.
“It does appear that many of those needed policies exist in your draft report and we urge you to keep those in the report. We urge you to call on the Governor and the Legislature to find the leadership necessary on this issue to enact these policies sooner rather than later. We suggest that all citizens call on the Governor to make this a priority in her next State of the State address. We ask that you call on all us to lead.
“The MML stands ready to assist you in your endeavours and if there are any questions that I can answer, I am glad to do so.”