Regional Integration: The RTA’s Regional Master Transit Plan

A map of new transit services under the RTA’s Regional Master Transit Plan

For decades, Southeast Michigan has struggled to bring about an effective regional transit system.  Current transit services in the region do not adequately reach many population hotspots or employment centers, and even in the cases where they do, many routes only run a few times per day and lack county-to-county interconnectivity.

This can change with the implementation of the RTA’s Regional Master Transit Plan.

The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) was created through state legislation in 2012. The purpose of the RTA is to coordinate services between current transit providers and to create a regional transit system throughout Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties. After considerable research, planning and community interaction, the RTA released its Regional Master Transit Plan on May 31. With weeks of feedback from community engagement sessions and regional stakeholders, there were a few tweaks made to the plan and roughly two months later, the RTA Board of Directors approved the plan to go on the November 2016 ballot.

The Details:

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The RTA’s vision of Bus Rapid Transit along Michigan Avenue

Central to the plan is the addition of four Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes along major regional corridors: Woodward, Gratiot, Michigan and Washtenaw Avenues. These routes alone will connect communities from downtown Detroit to Pontiac, Mt. Clemens and DTW Airport, as well as from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti. BRT is best described as “superbus” service, as it mimics light rail in nearly all but cost (BRT is substantially cheaper). BRT buses are bigger than standard buses, more fuel-efficient and faster due to specialized infrastructure. These new BRT services will go a long way in making public transit an attractive option for everyone.

The implementation of eleven new “Cross-County Connector” routes  will help to break down barriers to inter-county travel that often stymie the region’s current transit providers (as many are not able to cross certain county or city borders). These routes will connect Southeast Michigan’s counties along well-trafficked routes like Grand River Avenue, Van Dyke and 12 Mile Road. No longer will riders along these routes have to transfer to another transit provider’s bus simply because they are traveling between different counties.

Another new service is the introduction of five Airport Express routes, one from each county (except Oakland, which will have two) that will provide quick and convenient transit to and from DTW airport. With this new service, the hassle and cost of having to find a ride or pay for parking can be eliminated for people all over Southeast Michigan who use the largest airport in the state.

Additionally, the plan would add a passenger rail route between Detroit and Ann Arbor; add four limited-stop Commuter Express lines that go from population centers directly to job centers; simplify travel with the introduction of a regional fare card; invest substantially in increased paratransit services; eventually take over Detroit’s new M-1 streetcar (QLINE); and expand upon local service with the additions or extensions of eight local bus routes.

The plan consists of several substantial improvements to regional transit, but what is the cost? The ballot proposal in November will ask for an annual property levy of 1.2 mills. This would raise $3.1 billion over the 20-year life of the millage in order to fund this $4.6 billion plan (the $1.5 billion difference will come from fare revenue, state and federal funding, etc.). At this taxation rate ($1.20 per every $1,000 of taxable home value), the average homeowner would pay about $95 per year, or less than $8 a month.

Why regional transit?

The benefits of regional transit are clear.  Research shows that for every dollar that is invested in public transportation, the region sees four dollars in economic benefit. Home values perform 42 percent better on average if they are located near high frequency transit stops. In terms of retaining our young Michigan talent, 73 percent of millennials listed regional transit as one of their top wishes for Southeast Michigan. Fewer cars on the road means a smoother commute for even those who will not be using public transit.

Countless people in this region work in a different county than the one that they live in. Those who cannot afford a car and are not served by our current transit system often cannot hold down a job, even though some employers throughout the region are starving for dependable workers. This is a region and a system in which 78% of jobs cannot be reached in 90 minutes by transit. Transit investment as a region is far behind other comparable metros. Thus, relying solely on the current system would leave Metro Detroit with a crippling lack of regional transit that goes far beyond that of other regions. Some voters are understandably cautious of a new property tax, but should not fall prey to shortsightedness. This regional transit plan is only one piece of the puzzle and it will not solve every transit problem, but is so direly needed in our region that it is a prerequisite to keeping Southeast Michigan competitive with other regions across the country.

Why the most common criticisms of the plan ring hollow

Some of the most common criticisms of the plan, with rebuttals:

  • “I don’t like buses. This money would be better spent on light rail.” Certainly there is much to be said for light rail, but in a region that is inexperienced with substantial transit investments, light rail is likely too substantial an “ask” for the transit providers and certainly the public. The goal of BRT is to provide as many of the benefits of light rail as possible while still being affordable. BRT mimics light rail to a degree by being faster and more reliable than a standard bus, due to advancements like signal prioritization and dedicated lanes.
  • “The suburbs are not getting a fair deal. All of us suburban homeowners are just paying so that people in Detroit can have expanded transit services.” Out of all of the new routes provided in the plan, only one is located solely in Detroit (QLINE), and that is a project that will happen whether or not this plan is approved by the voters. On the other hand, there are eight new routes that will be solely located in Macomb and Oakland counties. Oakland and Macomb counties still get more back in transit services than they will pay under the millage, as is required under the 85% return on investment clause in the legislation that created the RTA.
  • “The money will just go into some politician’s pockets.” All of the funding allocations and routes are laid out publicly in the plan, thus letting the public keep a watchful eye on their own money (as they should). In addition, after Macomb and Oakland County leaders raised concerns about how investments would be divided among counties, a new RTA Funding Allocation Committee was created. This committee is made up of 5 board members, one from each county and the city of Detroit. Any change to the master plan has to be approved by unanimous vote, ensuring oversight from each county.
  • “Why should I subsidize a bus I will not use?” The benefits of transit go beyond personal use. As discussed before, communities flourish economically when they have access to reliable, rapid and regional transit. Traffic congestion will be alleviated with less cars on the road. More of our elderly and disabled population will be able to easily get around. There will be fewer drunk drivers on the road after an evening out. We all already subsidize the roads even if we do not personally drive, because we recognize that roads serve an important societal function. Regional transit is no different.

Regional Integration through Regional Transit

This is the best chance Metro Detroit has ever had to provide an effective regional transit system. For the sake of our region, we cannot squander this opportunity. No longer can each county starve on its own island. We need true regional integration and transit is such an integral part. The RTA’s Regional Master Transit Plan must be approved by the voters for the good of the region.

Written by: Matt Genesco, Transportation Policy Intern

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Turns Out, Where We’re Going, We DO Need Roads

Back in the 1980’s, Marty McFly and Doc Brown painted an interesting picture of what our future would look like in the 1989 film “Back to the Future II.” As you may recall, the popular first film ended with our heroes getting ready for a trip into the future, with Doc notoriously quipping, “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” In the second film, we were thrown into a world of futuristic expectations of what life would be like with regards to our homes, clothing, and yes, even transportation. That far-off future date was October 21, 2015.

10.21.15

The dates from the “Back to the Future” series, including today.

So just where are we now with regards to Marty’s experience of transportation in 2015? Which predictions hit the mark, which were way off, and what technology are we currently using that not even the popular film could predict?

 Let’s start with the obvious, shall we?

Hop on the Skyway

In the 1980’s it seemed logical that our technological focus would be getting the personal vehicle off the ground and into the air. Suburban sprawl was on the upswing, the US had survived the decade of the 1973 oil embargo, safety became a priority when seat belts became mandatory and the federal government began to enforce the Clean Air Act standards for cars. Also, the Jetsons had been telling us for years that we’d be flying our cars to work.

We may not have flying cars in 2015, but the Jetsons promise we'll be flying to work by 2062.

We may not have flying cars in 2015, but the Jetsons promise we’ll be flying to work by 2062.

But the vision of flying cars presented in the movie is far from the reality of today. We are, sadly, still forced to sit on pavement in traffic, avoiding potholes and each other as we navigate those black lanes on our way to work. Even worse, our Michigan roads are falling apart and we’re still stuck driving on them (Have we mentioned the need for more state funding for our transportation system lately?)

But all is not lost. For the past century people have been trying to create a flying car, with some rather science-fiction-looking results that make the DeLorean, Doc’s legendary time-traveling car, look downright old-fashioned. Today one of the closest models we have is this Aeromobile 3.0, the Slovakian innovation that can fly 544 miles and travel at 124 mph. And for hundreds of thousands of Euros, and a wait of 2-3 years, you could own your very own flying car.

This Aeromobile 3.0

The Aeromobile 3.0 is one of our best options for flying cars.

For those of you needing to be airborne sooner (and cheaper) than that, we can look towards the hoverboard as our mode of transport for the future. While they aren’t yet cruising the sidewalks of our cities and towns, we may be a little closer to seeing them strapped to the feet of Millennials (or, more likely, that scary and unknown Generation Z). The Hendo Hoverboard uses Magnetic Field Architecture technology to give users the thrill of levitating on a skateboard. And for just $10,000 you can be one of the first to purchase one. But you’ll also have to buy your own magnetic surface to place down anywhere you want to use it; the Hendo Hoverboard unfortunately won’t work on just any surface, or actually really any surface that you would realistically like to travel on. But with their scheduled release today, this tech is that much closer to our reach.

The Hendo Hoverboard, yours for only $10,000.

The Hendo Hoverboard, yours for only $10,000.

Don’t pay for gas, just use trash!

Mr. Fusion

Mr. Fusion converted household trash into fuel

According to Doc Brown, our vehicles would be fueled by trash rather than gasoline in the year 2015. Using nuclear fusion, Mr. Fusion the Home Energy Reactor would convert household trash items, such as banana peels and soda cans, into the energy needed to power the DeLorean. Though far from the dependency we currently have on oil (despite best efforts to promote electric and hydrogen cars — more on that later), this tech may be closer than you think. Biogas, the product of converting organic material into methane, is used in Sweden and California to power trash collection vehicles. And if you feel so inclined, you can even modify your personal car into a trash-converting vehicle using the open source Gasifier Experimenter’s Kit.

GEK

Adapting your car into a trash-converting vehicle looks pretty easy.

All of this would have been good news since the film’s expectation for gas prices were more than 3 times the cost they are today. In 1985 (the year “Back to the Future” takes place) a gallon of gas cost approximately $1.09. Today, it’s more than doubled to $2.32 (and that’s a far cry from last year’s average of $3.13). But according to the film, 2015 gas prices were a whopping $6.95. Perhaps that was to pay for the robot that would pump your gas, or for any of the other gas station services envisioned such as mag-lev adjustments, aero-dynamic kits and certified retro-fitting services.

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Robotic gas stations mean you never have to leave your car.

We obviously don’t have pumps that look like this, but they could be arriving at a gas station near you sooner than you think. A Missouri company is producing robotic gas pumps that use infrared lights, cameras and good old-fashioned suction cups to open your car’s fuel door. It will cost your neighborhood gas station $50,000 a pump, but isn’t that really worth the ability to never have to leave your car to purchase gas again?

Not even in their wildest dreams

So we don’t get to work via flying cars or hoverboards, robots don’t pump our gas, and for the most part trash can’t fuel our cars. Disappointing though 2015 may seem, there are some transportation innovations we take for granted that not even Doc could have predicted.

Google was just a funny sounding word back in the 1980’s, but today the company is leading the way in autonomous vehicles. Their self-driving cars have been on the road since 2009, and four states and Washington DC have passed legislation allowing these cars to be on public roads (but don’t worry, they currently are capped at a speed of 25 mph). Michigan is not only one of these states, but is home to the Mcity Test Facility, a 32-acre research complex at the University of Michigan with realistic road conditions for testing autonomous vehicles. Though still in a rigorous testing period, Google may have these vehicles ready for public purchase by 2020.

MCity

Mcity, where the autonomous vehicle is King.

Garbage trucks may be the premier vehicle using trash for fuel, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t alternatives out there. Back in 1976 Congress recognized the need to invest in alternative fuel vehicles and passed the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act. But in the mid 1980’s electric vehicles weren’t on the radar for many car buyers and it wasn’t until the 1990’s that the interest in developing the technology to make electric vehicles possible really flourished. Today electric and hybrid vehicles are available through the majority of automakers with over 25,000 such vehicles registered in Michigan.

Leading car manufacturers are putting their trust in the public’s interest in this technology. Toyota announced just this week its goal to reduce CO2 emissions from new cars by 90% by 2050.They plan to do this through their hydrogen vehicle the Mirai and their hybrid vehicle the Prius. (And if that’s not enough to get you Back to the Future fans excited, check out this add for the Mirai featuring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd). Add this to the already ambitious plans of Tesla to sell 500,000 electric vehicles (at $35,000 each) by 2020, and we could be seeing an entirely new standard for the personal car very soon.

Paying for a taxi was another transportation scenario where the film anticipated a large change. But though those character living in their 2015 wouldn’t think twice about paying $174.50 for a taxi ride (or using their thumb print as their bank card), they probably would be flustered over flagging down a ride using an app through Uber or Lyft (and to show just how much of a fan Lyft is of Back to the Future, the company is offering a chance for a free ride in their DeLorean vehicles in Manhattan today from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm. Please, if you’re in NYC today, take advantage of this opportunity!). This tech-savvy approach to choosing exactly what type of vehicle to pick you up and when is a much more customizable way to get to your destination, and sure beats whatever policies would have allowed for taxi drivers to use their Parrots as a driving aid.

Taxis are always more reliable with parrots.

Taxis are always more reliable with parrots.

As we celebrate Back to the Future Day today, let’s rejoice in the things that didn’t come to pass (such as those inside out jeans or the Ortho-lev machine that floats you upside down to correct back pain) and acknowledge the progress we have made on our transportation innovations. We’re not flying cars yet, but whether it’s organic matter, hydrogen or electricity powering our cars, we are getting closer to a future away from gasoline dependent vehicles. And we still have that hoverboard to look forward to…

Written by Laurel Burchfield, Trans4M Coordinator

80 MPH: Is Michigan Putting Speed Before Safety?

This blog has been updated with a definition of the 85th percentile standard. For a simple guide to this concept, please visit: Michiganspeedlimits.org

Legislators are back in Lansing and are once again talking about transportation. No, not that pesky, seemingly never ending effort to increase transportation funding (though we’re still optimistic that legislators can come to an agreement on that issue before 2016!). The issue currently being discussed in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is speed limits. Or more specifically, raising speed limits.

The committee has been taking testimony on a package of bills that would set speed limits by the 85th percentile standard. This standard is based on the belief that drivers operate with a rational set of expectations for how fast they can safely travel and adjust their speed accordingly, regardless of any posted speed limit signs. After tracking vehicular traffic, the speed limit would be set at a speed is exceeded by only 15% of drivers, with the remaining 85% traveling at or, more likely, below that speed. But this method can ignore vital components of our road system, such as the engineering design, sight distance, pedestrian access and more.

If passed, this package of bills would set Michigan’s speed limits higher than any other state east of the Mississippi. This speed, according to Timothy Gates, Associate Professor at Michigan State University, is an unprecedented act in a region where rural freeways look dramatically different than in the plains or mountainous regions. “Rural freeways in Michigan carry a lot more traffic and have more frequent interchanges than states in the West,” he said.

“US Speed Limits May 2015” by Andros 1337

In real terms, this legislation would broadly change Michigan speed limits, an act that both the Michigan State Police and Michigan Department of Transportation caution against. These bills could increase our speed limits upwards of 10 mph faster than current limits. Rural and urban freeways could be 80 mph and 70 mph respectively and highways could be as high as 65 mph. The speed limit for trucks and buses, including school buses, would also increase so that they could be authorized to travel at 70 mph. Trans4M and our member groups believe that these speeds post a new set of problems that need to be addressed before we trade our safety for quicker driving times.

speed limits (1)

What about that old adage that speed kills?

Proponents of HB 4423-4427 argue that raising posted speed limits to the speed that 85% of drivers already use prevents reckless driving like passing and tailgating. They also argue that raising the speed limit won’t provide an incentive for the already fast drivers to further increase their speed. Following the 85th percentile standard, they believe, will actually make driving safer for Michigan.

And yet, speed does kill. Automobile accidents are a leading killer in the nation, ranking number one among teenagers and accounting for 39.2% of all accidental deaths of children aged 1-14 in Michigan in 2013. We’re already seeing traffic-related deaths increasing dramatically this year, with 19,000 deaths reported nationally during the first 6 months of 2015 alone—a 14% increase over the same period last year. If this trend continues, this year may have the most automobile-related deaths since 2007. In Michigan there were 729 deaths reported as of the posting of this blog, despite Michigan’s Toward Zero Death safety campaign.

Michigan Traffic Crash Facts 2014

Michigan Traffic Crash Facts 2014

We know 90% of traffic-related deaths are due to driver behavior, and that includes traveling at an unsafe speed. In 2014, 21% of the 806 fatal crashes in Michigan were caused by excessive speed. The Federal Highway Administration says that speed results in an increase in crash occurrence as well, meaning that with higher speeds under these new limits Michigan could see more accidents and fatalities. MSU’s Gates testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that an increase from 55 mph to 65 mph on non-freeways would increase the total crash rate by an estimated 3.3% and cause more severe injuries in these crashes, though that number could be higher or lower.

crash test

The difference in a crash test between 37, 50 and 62 mph

But drivers and passengers aren’t the only ones at risk. Higher speeds mean less reaction time for drivers to brake if they are about to hit a pedestrian or bicyclist. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that it takes 1.5 seconds for a driver to react to an obstacle on the road, with this time doubling or more if the driver is distracted, inebriated, or fatigued. The distance that a car travels after hitting the brakes increases dramatically with speed. When designing a rural highway, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials recommends a stopping sight distance of 850 feet for a vehicle traveling 80 mph. By comparison, the recommendation for a vehicle traveling the current speed of 70 mph on our rural freeways is 680 feet. That is a difference of 170 feet, which is approximately half the length of an American football field, or the distance of this trampoline installed in this Russian forest. A driver travelling at this speed realistically needs this extra 170 feet, in dry road conditions, to react and come to a full stop before hitting an obstacle in the road.

This trampoline in a Russian forest is 170 feet long, or the extra sight distance that AASHTO recommends when increasing speeds from 70 to 80 mph

This trampoline in a Russian forest is 170 feet long, or the extra sight distance that AASHTO recommends when increasing speeds from 70 to 80 mph

Pedestrians and bicyclists are already at greater risk of serious injury or death in a traffic crash. Between 2005 and 2010, Michigan pedestrians accounted for 0.4% of all crash victims, but 12.7% of all fatalities in traffic accidents. We already know that the likelihood of a pedestrian surviving being hit by a car goes up as the car’s speed goes down. Increasing speed from 20 to 30 mph increases the likelihood of pedestrian fatality by 40%. Pedestrians aged 60 and older are even more susceptible, with a 92% probability of a fatality when struck by cars traveling 40 mph or more.

speed-fatalities

Bicyclists face similar risks on Michigan roads. 2,068 bicyclists were involved in traffic accidents in Michigan between 2005 and 2010. While the majority of these accidents occurred on two-lane, local roads with speed limits between 25 and 30 mph, the majority of fatalities occurred at higher speeds.

Capture 4

School and construction zones would change too.

Increasing speed limits on limited-access freeways is dangerous for drivers. Increasing the speed limit on highways puts pedestrians and bicyclists at risk. But most alarmingly, the proposed legislation changes the speeds for school and construction zones, ultimately putting our most vulnerable road users in harm’s way.

Currently, school zone speeds are in effect for a minimum of 1 hour before school begins and after it ends. The speed limit is a standard 25 mph, but local authorities have the ability to lower that speed limit further, request school crossings and establish a speed limit for any street in a school zone that has sidewalks on at least one side. HB 4424 would change the standard so that the speed limit is not more than 15 mph less than the posted regular speed, with 25 mph being the lowest allowable speed. It would also restrict local ability to set these important school zone features and reduce the school zone period from 1 hour to 30 minutes.

school zone

Students are already at risk while traveling to school. A Transportation Research Board national study found that between 1999 and 2002, over 11,600 students aged 5-18 were injured while walking or biking to school. Distracted drivers or drivers not adhering to the set school zone speed limit require students to be especially aware of their surroundings.

Meg Ackerman, Director of Michigan Safe Routes to School Program, argues:

“Children are significantly more vulnerable than adults: until the age of about 10-12 children have greater challenges with processing the multiple variables that confront them when navigating street crossing and traffic (speed of approaching vehicles, distance, sounds, turning vehicles, and vehicles coming from different directions to name a few). Children can behave rather unpredictably when interacting with traffic, which is not to say that they should be removed from the street; quite the opposite, they need opportunities to learn and practice pedestrian safety. Thus, it is imperative that motorists drive more cautiously and slowly during school travel times.”

Raising the speed limit and reducing the time of the school zone doesn’t accomplish anything other than adding yet another barrier for students to safely get to and from school.

Construction zones would face similar changes. Construction zones are currently set at 45 mph when workers are present. HB 4423 would instead make the speed limit no more than 10 mph less than the posted speed limit. On a limited-access freeway with 1 lane closed for construction, that speed limit would be 60 mph. This puts construction workers at risk, but we know that the majority of injuries and fatalities in work zone related incidents are actually drivers and their passengers (which doesn’t mean that construction workers aren’t also at risk, as was the case in the fatality on Monday evening). Traffic accidents involving work zones are already on the rise, with a nearly 100% increase in serious injuries in work zones between 2012 and 2013 in Michigan.

construction

Putting communities before drivers.

It’s not a secret that the automobile is king in Michigan. We love our cars, and we should be able to travel quickly to the places we need and want to go. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the socioeconomic benefits of having communities that prioritize alternative means of transportation, such as public transit, biking and walking.

Communities that encourage walkable downtowns experience an economic boom. Infrastructure such as bike lanes, sidewalks, on-street parking, and traffic-calming trees and medians all increase the walkable environment, which in turn encourages business for retail and restaurants. According to a 2013 Active Living Research report, “evidence suggests that rents in walkable shopping areas can be 27-54% higher than in non-walkable areas. Many of the most successful recent shopping developments have been located and designed to attract a substantial walk-in population.” Speeds both through downtown and surrounding areas play a large part in making walkers, as well as transit users and bicyclists, feel safer getting to these shopping and dining opportunities.

While the proposed legislation would not necessarily change speeds in downtown business districts, it still sends a clear message to Michigan businesses and residents that getting you through town at a high speed is our priority. This contrasts sharply with how other states and some Michigan cities are approaching complete streets as they focus energy and dollars into the engineering solutions to make downtown districts and nearby streets a safer place for residents and businesses.

Norm Cox of The Greenway Collaborative, Inc. testified before the transportation committee that this proposed legislation too broadly sets speed limits in Michigan communities without taking into account safety and road design:

“These bills are drafted with a very narrow view of our roadway’s purpose – that is to move motor vehicles as quickly as possible from one place to another. Quite frankly, it seems that the entire set of bills are a result of someone being upset over getting a speeding ticket. These bills ignore pedestrian and bicycle safety. These bills also ignore the vital role our streets play as our most important public spaces – places that define our community and propel our economy.”

Increasing Michigan speed limits by 10 mph and using the 85th percentile standard is a short-term solution that ignores the long-term vision of transportation and community growth. John LaMacchia of the Michigan Municipal League warns, “when we look at the 85th percentile of speed, it should be a diagnosis not a prescription.” Legislators should consider all impacts of this proposal before making a decision that will affect the lives and safety of Michiganders on the road.

Blog Post by Laurel Burchfield, Trans4M Coordinator

Intern with Transportation for Michigan!

Trans4M is looking for a few good interns for the fall semester as we work to improve transportation options for Michigan. Won’t you join us as we work in Lansing and across the state to reform transportation policy and educate the public and our legislators about the value of a vibrant, well-funded and complete system.

Are you interested in helping Trans4M change the way we think about transportation in Michigan? Are you excited by the political process of passing legislation to fund our complete transportation system? Do you want to educate people on the value of transportation options that include biking, walking, bus and train ridership?  Are you fascinated by issues of urban planning and land use and how they impact the way Michigan residents get around? Would you like an internship opportunity with the potential to work with up to 50 different organizations on topics that interest you and never requires making coffee?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we’re looking for you!

The Transportation for Michigan (Trans4M) Coalition is seeking talented part-time interns to support various activities from September to December, 2015

Transportation for Michigan Intern

The Trans4M intern will be tasked with a variety of projects and will have the opportunity to work with over 50 member groups of the coalition. The work will focus on legislation and policy research, social media and blog communications, and event planning. Additionally, this intern will have the opportunity to undertake short- and long-term policy research projects, meet with state policymakers, take part in special events and field trips, and attend committee meetings and sessions of the Michigan Legislature.

This is an unpaid position, but can be used for college credit. Work schedule is flexible, although individual must commit to working at least two days at our Lansing office (602 W. Ionia St., Lansing, MI).

An ideal applicant will:

  • Be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, or have recently graduated;
  • Have a basic understanding of current transportation policy issues and public policy.
  • Basic familiarity with research, outreach and engagement activities;
  • Strong skills in verbal and written communication with diverse audiences, including social media platforms;
  • Be self-motivated and self-directed, seeking guidance when appropriate.
  • Have a good sense of humor and a strong ability to collaborate with others.

To apply, please submit a cover letter, résumé, and a short (1-5 pages) writing sample to Laurel Burchfield, Transportation for Michigan Coordinator at LaurelB@trans4m.org by Monday, September 14th 2015.

Trans4M Summer Showcase: Crim Fitness Foundation

Grab your popcorn and take a seat to enjoy Trans4M’s Summer Showcase Blog Series! The series will showcase our talented member groups as they embark on a summer filled with events and activities. But don’t just read about all the activities, join them! Make your summer one to remember with Trans4M and our one-of-a-kind member groups.

In our second blog post, we highlight the Crim Fitness Foundation. Crim is a nonprofit organization out of Flint committed to serving a leadership role in advancing the national agenda for improving health in Michigan communities. The group hosts events such as exercise programs and races throughout the year. We spoke with Crim’s Communications and Outreach Manager, Theresa Roach, to learn more about Crim’s summer programming.

The starting line for the 2013 HealthPlus Crim Festival of Races.

The starting line for the 2013 HealthPlus Crim Festival of Races. The target participation for the 2015 Festival is 15,000.

Crim Fitness Foundation is a Michigan leader in improving health and wellness with a focus on reducing childhood obesity. Since 1977, Crim has promoted physical wellbeing through special programming and races that are the gem of Michigan’s extensive race season. The HealthPlus Crim Festival of Races has made Flint a destination for runners and walkers from across the country and internationally, including participants from Kenya, Russia, Ethiopia, Germany, Great Britain and more.

This year’s festival begins on Friday, August 21 and includes the 2015 USATF Masters Mile National Championship. Saturday’s festivities continue with a 10 mile, an 8K, a 5K, and a short 0.29 mile “trot” for kids. This year the new MLive Made in Michigan Award will be awarded to 1,000 10-mile racers from Michigan whose finish times rank them among the top 10-mile racers nationwide in their age category. The Health and Fitness Expo, an exhibition of businesses and organizations with health and fitness related products or services, will kick off the race on Thursday and run through Saturday, making Flint the place for health and wellness-related activity during this August weekend.

Many participants will have spent weeks, even months, in the lead-up to the race training and practicing a healthy lifestyle. Crim’s Communications and Outreach Manager, Theresa Roach, calls the event a “community-wide celebration of being active all year.” The event encourages residents to engage in healthy behaviors and practices for the race, but in the process can create long-term healthy choices and habits. Crim coordinates a weekly fitness program for adults that offers guidance, companionship and entry in the race of your choice at the Festival. Crim also hosts a summer running club for kids in the lead-up to the Crim Kids Invitational Race on August 14.

The Kids Classic race in 2014. The 2015 Teddy Bear Trot is part of the Festival of Races and begins Saturday, August 22 at  noon.

The Kids Classic race in 2014.
The 2015 Teddy Bear Trot is part of the Festival of Races and begins Saturday, August 22 at noon.

Crim doesn’t stop its work with the individual though. The city of Flint has seen its share of economic struggle, but Crim fights to give the community an environment that embraces good parks, trails and street design. They view this infrastructure as a means to improve quality of life and create an environment that will encourage economic development and attract talent. “I think the story of Flint can go from its need and its state of extreme need to a story about how communities can revitalize themselves around health and wellness,” Crim’s CEO Gerry Myers said in a 2014 MLive article. “You don’t really need to change a whole lot, you just need to rethink who you are and how you do it and then engage more community partners.”

Crim begins this process of revitalization with the youngest Flint residents: school children. During the 2013-2014 school year, Crim held programs in 44 different schools for nearly 19,000 students. One way the organization does that is through the Safe Routes to School Program, which encourages non-motorized transportation as a viable method for getting to school. Crim helps facilitate large infrastructure grants to help schools improve sidewalks. The condition of the sidewalks surrounding schools is just as important as the safety of the neighborhood when parents decide whether their children should walk to school or not. The program also facilitates group walks to school, including teachers, and other volunteers, instead of parents hopping in their car to drive their child less than  5 blocks to school. In turn the creation of safe neighborhood spaces for children to walk to school helps to create an improved biking and walking situation for everyone in the neighborhood.

Crim helps community schools with the Safe Routes to School program and empowers students with the ability to bike and walk to school safely.

Crim helps community schools with the Safe Routes to School program and empowers students with the ability to bike and walk to school safely.

Representatives from Crim, including Roach, have been working with the community and the local government to implement the City of Flint Master Plan. Roach sits on the transportation and mobility workgroup, which provides a voluntary walkability assessment for the entire community. Volunteers provide data to create a basis by which the city can most effectively apply their limited resources. The information can also be used to apply for grants to stretch limited resources.

In 2013, between races and local clubs, more than 35,000 people participated with Crim. Crim has developed deep roots of community involvement in the hopes of revitalizing the Flint community through health and wellness. Non-motorized transportation advocacy is just one area of their concern. Crim wants to create an equitable system of transportation for all community users.

Crim provides teachers, support staff and parents with Mindfullness Training for Flint community schools. Trainings are conducted from 9 am – 4:30 pm at the  Flint Farmers Market.

Crim provides teachers, support staff and parents with Mindfullness Training for Flint community schools.
Trainings are conducted from 9 am – 4:30 pm at the Flint Farmers Market.

Registration for the HealthPlus Crim Festival of Races is open, or you can volunteer to help with the race or the Expo. Other race and program information, such as their Summer Running Clubs and Mindfullness Training, is available on the Crim website. For additional information about any of Crim’s programs and races, contact Theresa Roach, Crim’s Communications and Outreach Manager, at troach@crim.org.

Images used with permission from Crim.

Written by: Elle GetschmanTrans4M Fellow

Trans4M Summer Showcase: League of Michigan Bicyclists

Grab your popcorn and take a seat to enjoy Trans4M’s Summer Showcase Blog Series! The series will showcase our talented member groups as they embark on a summer filled with events and activities. But don’t just read about all the activities, join them! Make your summer one to remember with Trans4M and our one-of-a-kind member groups. In our first blog post, we highlight the League of Michigan Bicyclists (LMB). LMB is a nonprofit statewide membership organization striving to create a safe and bike-friendly Michigan. The group is active in a variety of forms, from organizing bike tours to bicycle advocacy days. We spoke with LMB’s Communications and Development Coordinator, Jeana-Dee Allen, to get the inside scoop on the current bike culture in Michigan.

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LMB’s Jeana-Dee Allen getting interviewed during LMB’s Advocacy Day

Bicycling in Michigan is nothing new. Bicyclists have taken to the streets and trails for over a century here. Yet, today, bicycling is taking on a new form. It is becoming increasingly formalized. Allen tells us, “Groups like Slow RollLansing Bike PartyTC Rides: Norte! Youth Cycling and others have informally ‘formalized’ something we’ve all been doing for years: gathering a group of friends and neighbors and going on a ride.” These groups utilize social media and partner with businesses to create a network of bike enthusiasts that coordinate events. By having coordinated, formalized events to get riders together, local community businesses are able to profit from the influx of riders into the area. Biking has an impressive economic impact on Michigan. According to MDOT, bicycling has a total annual impact of $668 million. If that isn’t impressive enough, the Outdoor Industry Foundation estimates that national effects of all bicycling-related activities could be as large as $133 billion, supporting 1.1 million jobs and generating $17.7 billion in federal, state and local taxes. Encouraging greater bike use in Michigan consequently encourages economic development.

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2015 LMB Advocacy Day

Promoting safe streets to ride on is critical for bicycling culture in Michigan. LMB takes an active role in promoting safe bike policies at the state level. When asked why LMB is involved in advocacy, Allen explained that “it is important for anyone who cycles (or has friends and family who ride) to be actively involved in legislation. These laws directly impact safety on the roads. The time you spend as an advocate is an investment in your safety and that of your friends and family.” As a means to connect riders to their legislators, LMB hosts Lucinda Means Bicycle Advocacy Day every May, with Michigan Trails and Greenways AllianceMichigan Mountain Biking Association and PEAC. The League has experienced great success by helping pass Complete Streets initiatives and the Nathan Bower Act, which requires driver’s education to teach bicycle and motorcycle awareness. 15366437933_30d379f676_o But if Lansing isn’t your scene, there are many ways to get involved with LMB this summer. Strap on your bicycle helmet and get ready for LMB’s summer bicycle tour events and experience Pure Michigan from the seat of your bike. Allen says the tours allow “participants [to] experience canopied roads, shoreline vistas, local shops, smooth terrains, historic spaces and so much more. When you cycle Michigan, your perspective is more intimate than seen from behind a windshield. Tour participants are able to stop and take photos next to fields of sunflowers, go to a shipwreck museum, camp with friends and family and experience Michigan at a much slower pace.” LMB tours have seen impressive growth over the years. Ridership has increased and two tours, the Shoreline West tour and the MUP tour will have anniversaries next year with Shoreline West turning 30 and MUP turning 15. In addition to promoting cycling in Michigan, the tours also help support LMB’s advocacy and education efforts. “Proceeds from our tours directly fund initiatives like our ‘What Every Young Michigan Bicyclist Must Know’ booklets. Tour riders not only are a part of an unforgettable experience, they actively fund sustainable efforts to educate drivers, people who ride bicycles and youth on how to be safe on the roadways,” Allen says. 15006173139_3b670dfefd_o The 2015 tours are: MUP (Michigan Upper Peninsula) – July 12-18: The Michigan Upper Peninsula tour. Shoreline West Bicycle Tour – August 2-8: The Shoreline West Bicycle Tour, Montague to Mackinaw City. Pedal & Paddle – September 18-20: Join LMB as they take to not only the trails, but the rivers too! Paddle on and ride along the Rocky, St. Joseph and the Portage rivers. More information about LMB tours is at: www.LMB.org/tours. If you cannot make it to one of the four LMB hosted bike rides, check out LMB’s Michigan Ride Calendar for other bike tours throughout Michigan! 6312571734_f2fcf8489f_oFor addition information, contact Jeana-Dee Allen, LMB’s Communications and Development Coordinator, at jd@LMB.org Images used with permission from LMB’s Flickr photos. Written by: Hannah Lensing,Trans4M Fellow

#MITransportation Month of Action

From June 15 to July 10, passionate advocates will participate in a Transportation Month of Action to tell legislators to find a real solution to our transportation crisis. We invite you to join us as we explore the benefits of funding a robust system with transportation options for all Michiganders. Complete Transportation System for Action Post After voters rejected Proposal 1 as a means to fund transportation, legislators have been working to find a new solution. Unfortunately, the message legislators seem to have heard is that voters only want transportation funded in a specific way: with existing  revenue spent exclusively on roads and bridges. But this misses not only the needs of maintaining our transportation system, but voter sentiment as well! In a poll conducted by EPIC-MRA in April, 45 percent believed that legislators would need to fund transportation through additional taxes or fees, or a combination of new revenue and cuts to existing state programs and services. In that same poll, 64 percent wanted to continue to fund all of Michigan’s transportation infrastructure, such as public transit, harbors, rail, and biking and hiking trails. On June 10, the House passed a package that will raise revenue for roads and bridges by taking money from Michigan’s economic development programs, imposing higher registration fees for electric and hybrid vehicles, and harming our state’s lowest-income working families by eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit.The Senate is currently deliberating and has called off summer recess with session dates scheduled through June and July. Now is the time to educate your senator about the value of finding a real fix for our transportation crisis. Transportation advocates will spend the next month communicating three very important messages to the Senate. In order to truly fix our transportation system, we must:

  1. Support our complete transportation system. Historically we have funded public transportation, rail, bike and pedestrian infrastructure, and trails by putting money through the full Act 51 formula. The House legislation would bypass all other transportation infrastructure and just send money to roads and bridges. The Senate has the opportunity to change this.
  2. Find a sustainable, dedicated funding source that does not pull money from other important Michigan priorities. Michigan’s transportation system is in crisis, but that doesn’t mean that other Michigan programs and services don’t also need their designated funds. Taking money from things, like our economic development programs, will only hurt other aspects of Michigan’s comeback. In order to continue funding transportation adequately, funds need to come from a sustainable source so we don’t face this crisis again.
  3. Create enough new revenue to meet the real needs of building and maintaining a 21st century transportation system. We need an estimated $1.2 billion annually just to fix our roads. If we are going to experience the benefits of a robust transportation system, we have to find at least this much, and to do so we must look at creating new revenue instead of relying solely on funding dedicated to other Michigan priorities.

Each week, advocates are going to focus on one of the above messages. The first week, spanning June 15-19, the message is support our complete transportation system. If this message is important to you (and we hope it is!), you can participate by sharing this message with your senator.

  • Get in touch with your senator. Call, email, or write to tell them to put all money through the full Act 51 formula. Then, next week get in touch again around message point 2. Then do it again during week 3 and 4. Let the Senate know that we need well-funded options to get to the places we need and want to go. Not sure who your senator is? Look it up here.
  • Share these graphics. We all know that having multiple transportation options beyond driving our cars is helpful for our health, pocketbook, and well-being. But do you know how beneficial it is for your community and Michigan? Use these helpful graphics to share how valuable it is to have a strong bus system, safe bikeways, and more.Aging in Place (6)
  • Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. Use this power to communicate your message. Take a selfie with your preferred transportation option, whether that is your favorite bike lane, public bus, trail or walkway. Then share that with the masses. On Twitter and Facebook, use #MITransportation = and tell us why you choose this means of getting around. And don’t forget to tag your senator!Hannah Advocacy
  • Spread the word and have your friends participate. Legislators really do listen to their constituents, so make sure your voices are heard loud and clear. The more people who participate, the louder the message.

Funding transportation is a priority for the state that needs to be resolved – not only just right away, but in the right way — if Michigan is going to have a 21st century transportation system. Now is your chance to shape what that solution will look like.

Looking For a Few Good Interns: Summer 2015

Are you interested in helping Trans4M change the way we think about transportation in Michigan? Are you excited by the political process of passing legislation to fund our complete transportation system? Do you want to educate people on the value of transportation options that include biking, walking, bus and train ridership?  Are you fascinated by issues of urban planning and land use and how they impact the way Michigan residents get around? Would you like an internship opportunity with the potential to work with up to 50 different organizations on topics that interest you and never requires making coffee?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then we’re looking for you!

The Transportation for Michigan (Trans4M) Coalition is seeking talented part-time interns to support various activities from June to August 2015. This position is part of the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) Internship Program.

Transportation for Michigan Intern

The Trans4M intern will be tasked with a variety of projects and will have the opportunity to work with over 50 member groups of the coalition. The work will focus on legislation and policy research, social media and blog communications, and event planning. Additionally, this intern may have the opportunity to undertake short- and long-term policy research projects, meet with state policymakers, take part in special events and field trips, and attend committee meetings and sessions of the Michigan Legislature.

This is an unpaid position, but can be used for college credit. Work schedule is flexible, although individual must commit to working at least two days at the MEC office (602 W. Ionia St., Lansing, MI).

An ideal applicant will:

  • Be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program, or have recently graduated;
  • Have a basic understanding of current transportation policy issues and public policy.
  • Basic familiarity with research, outreach and engagement activities;
  • Strong skills in verbal and written communication with diverse audiences, including social media platforms;
  • Be self-motivated and self-directed, seeking guidance when appropriate.
  • Have a good sense of humor and a strong ability to collaborate with others.

Michigan Environmental Council Internship Program

MEC’s internship program is designed to identify the next generation of leaders working for Michigan’s environment, cultivate their talents and shape their future.  We seek highly motivated interns who are looking to expand their knowledge of public policy and environmental issues while building a base of contacts in the environmental community and beyond.

Every spring, summer and fall we give several talented university students direct experience in environmental policy research and advocacy.  They give us the fresh perspectives and ideas we need to rebuild Michigan’s economy while protecting our natural resources and enhancing our quality of life.

We tailor our internships to match each person’s skills, expertise and goals, and offer a variety of experiences to make their time here as valuable as possible. Interns work closely with our policy experts in energy, land use, transportation, environmental health, urban policy, agriculture and natural resources.

To apply, please submit a cover letter, résumé, and a short (1-5 pages) writing sample to Laurel Burchfield, Transportation for Michigan Coordinator at LaurelB@trans4m.org by Monday, June 1st 2015.

Ride Smart with Intelligent Transportation Systems

Over the past few years, The U. S. Department of Transportation has been taking steps towards implementing Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). ITS uses new technology and data to connect cars, rail, buses and other transportation modes into a network that tracks and shares information with its users. Ideally, these improved connections will allow for increased travel efficiency and user safety.

So what does ITS technology look like? ITS is already in use in a variety of vehicles, such as the beeping sound some cars emit when they get close to hitting an object, automatic parallel parking systems or E-Z pass technology, which allows drivers to bypass turnpike toll plazas. These types of systems when applied to buses, motorcycles, and transit help decrease collisions and protect pedestrians.ITS1.2

 

ITS has been in the news following the May 12 derailment of an Amtrak train that was traveling at a speed faster than allowed around a turn in Philadelphia that killed eight passengers and injured hundreds. Experts say a system called Positive Train Control (PTC), which automatically decreases a train’s speed if the engineer does not respond to warnings, would have prevented the accident. The train was equipped with PTC, but the system was not operational due to budgetary restrictions. U.S. Congress previously mandated that every train across the country be equipped with PTC by the end of 2015. Unfortunately, few train companies have implemented the technology. Representative Quigley of Illinois explains, “We (Congress) require this without fully understanding it, without fully assisting those that are going to be involved, without thinking that this is an unfunded mandate, in particular our commuter railroads would never be able to meet these deadlines.” Political support for safer technology is critical in aiding the implementation of ITS. If PTC was in place, Amtrak says the derailment would have not taken place.

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Amtrak Train May 12th Derailment

The data collected from transportation agencies by means of ITS can empower drivers and legislators to make better-informed decisions. Beyond promoting safety, the data collected from these vehicles could help reveal information on where there is traffic congestion, where there is high demand for transit, and more. The ride-sharing service Uber has taken steps to share their data system with city officials. Currently, Uber gives Boston officials quarterly reports showing the date and times of rides, the distance traveled, and the locations where riders were picked up and dropped off. This data allows city officials a glimpse into daily commuters’ patterns, and could determine where to build new roads or offer other transportation options.  San Francisco is also experimenting with ITS, installing sensors in 6,000 parking spaces so drivers can determine which ones are vacant. Users can download an app or go to the website to locate parking. If parking does not exist, some drivers may choose transit. With greater knowledge, users can reduce travel time because they will have information ahead of time on congestion, parking, and construction, which will lead to less idle sitting on the road.In addition, riders can switch to other modes of transportation that may be more efficient than traveling by car. The data can also help elected officials and planners figure out how to improve traffic signals to encourage traffic flow, identify where new roads need to be built; and increase the efficiency of transit services.

San Francisco's SFPark App Shows Availability of Parking Spaces

San Francisco’s SFPark App Shows Availability of Parking Spaces

Transit also benefits from ITS. Buses can be equipped with a pedestrian warning system, which may help protect the pedestrians crossing in an intersection. Another element of ITS that has shown success is Transit Signal Priority (TSP), which allows for buses and light rail cars that are behind schedule to manipulate the upcoming traffic signal to allow the transit vehicle to pass through.  This helps buses to stay on schedule, which in turn improves their overall reliability. The ability of transit agencies to manipulate traffic signals requires the approval and support from local road agencies. ITS, and especially TSP systems, require close collaboration between the transit agency and the local agencies that have jurisdiction over traffic signals.

Transit Signal Priority (TSP)

Transit Signal Priority (TSP)

Another category of ITS—autonomous vehicles—have become the focus of many public debates. Advocates of autonomous vehicles predict reductions in traffic and parking costs, accidents, pollution emissions, roadway costs, and the need for conventional public transit services. Some argue that self-driving cars will replace chauffeur services and the need to subsidize public transit because non-drivers will now have access to mobility through self-driving automobiles. In addition, some advocates claim that autonomous vehicles will reduce vehicle ownership, with self-driving taxies replacing personal vehicles. The ride-sharing potential of autonomous vehicles could reduce a multicar family to a single car family. In addition, autonomous vehicles have the ability to provide mobility for all ages.

ITS blog Photo 2While the benefits of autonomous vehicles certainly are attractive, there are some policy concerns, including a decline in jobs for drivers, new safety risks, and the possibility the cars might make other modes of transportation less safe and convenient. Privacy is also a big concern. Self-driving cars have an always-on wireless connection, which makes them trackable at every moment. Yet, millions of Americans already consent to being tracked through GPS capability in their smartphones. A little public awareness and education about increased privacy threats may counterbalance any fear and show that privacy concerns may not affect the demand for self-driving cars.

The U.S. is increasingly moving towards a more connected and intelligent transportation structure. With these improvements, policy decisions will follow, shaping the path transportation will take into the future. Michigan is at the forefront of this technological research in a variety of ways. MDOT Director Kirk Steudle was recently named one of the ”Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers” by Government Technology magazine. He is heavily involved in supporting ITS research, a chair on the Board of Directors of the Intelligent Technology Society of America, and a member of the ITS Program Advisory Committee. In addition, Detroit hosted last year’s World ITS Conference and the University of Michigan has become a leader in autonomous vehicle research. This, of course, would not be the first time Michigan has had central role in developing the future of the nation’s transportation system. At Trans4M we are excited to see what is to come in the next few years.

 

Written by: Hannah Lensing,Trans4M Fellow

Highway Trust Fund: Here We Are Again

Remember our blog last August addressing the urgent need for Congress to reach a consensus on long-term funding for the Highway Trust Fund? In the few remaining moments prior to their recess last summer, Congress passed a $10.8 billion fix to keep the HTF alive through May 2015, but now the May 31st deadline is fast approaching, and history repeats itself as insolvency looms again. The need for Congress to find a long-term fix for the HTF is no less imperative almost a year later, and in fact the funding solution will need to cover greater damages the longer it is put off.

As early as March, concerns arose from Congress regarding delayed state level projects at the beginning of the spring construction season. “States have already notified the federal government that they will be delaying or postponing or canceling projects” U.S. Representative Peter DiFazio (D-Oregon) reported, “I expect the number of canceled or delayed projects will only grow over the coming weeks if we don’t have a short term bill” (italics added). Congress continues to work in the short-term, running into funding deadlines. Whatever the short-term fix, this conversation will return.

So what has Congress proposed? The easiest solution given the current funding structure would be to raise the federal level gas tax, which has not seen an increase since 1993. A bipartisan group of lawmakers came up with House Resolution 1846, The Bridge to Sustainable Infrastructure Act, which would increase the federal gas tax and index it to inflation to generate $27.5 billion for transportation projects over the next two years. “We refuse to pass on the liability of our deteriorating roads and bridges to our children and grandchildren,” the resolution’s sponsors stated in a press release. “The longer we wait to fix our crumbling infrastructure, the more it will cost in the long run.”

The resolution provides time for Congress to consider other sustainable funding mechanisms. Other funding proposals include using taxes collected by imposing levies on corporate profits stored overseas. As part of the resolution, the gas tax will automatically increase in three years if no agreement has been reached prior. Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy believes that passage of a long term bill is too much to undertake in the remaining legislative days in May, and stated that a short-term fix of about $8 billion to $10 billion is an essential step to a long term fix.

As we all know, Michigan suffers from deteriorating roads and bridges, and turned last week to the voters to raise additional funds for our transportation system. That vote failed overwhelmingly, but the need for additional transportation dollars continues. Federal funds, down 8 percent in the last five years, account for nearly one third of Michigan’s transportation budget. Michigan ranked 7th lowest among states in per capita federal transportation funding in 2013, and 2nd lowest on overall per capita spending on roads, bridges, and highways.

federal gas tax

Transportation for America studied the effects on each state of eliminating the federal gas tax, and found all states would have to raise their per-gallon gas tax more than the federal 18.4 cents to replace lost revenue, and many states would need to raise their tax much more. Michigan would require a 20 cent increase, and would lose more than $91,000,000 if the 18.4 cent federal tax were converted to a state-level 18.4-cent tax, a per-capita loss of $9.22.

rally photo

As the deadline fast approaches you can get involved. Voices for Public Transit’s Rally to Rebuild America wants to share with Congress why Americans support a long term investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure. To participate just print off the Rally to Rebuild America poster, use it to share why you support increased infrastructure funding by May 13th, and post your photo to the Facebook page. Continue to share with Congress by email, via local media, or encourage others to get involved right up until the deadline. Michigan’s transportation infrastructure continues to struggle with the limited financial resources available to us, and federal funding is one necessary piece to this puzzle.

Feature Image: Fox17

Written by: Elle Getschman-Trans4m Fellow