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Work in nearing completion on the Art Deco-styled Salvation Army Building on Bagley across from DTE HQ in downtown Detroit. A conversation with Scott Simons of DTE Public Relations revealed that the restoration / renovation will be completed around the end of December.

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  1. #1
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    Default Pugh Now "on board" with BRT

    City Council President Charles Pugh spoke about bus rapid transit yesterday.

    http://www.michigannow.org/2012/02/2...upporting-brt/


    How much longer will Detroiters and suburbanites keep accepting the modest plans presented to them, nod their heads, and then when the authorities come up with a new watered down version, everyone is back to saying, no Mass transit just won't work in Detroit?

    Why not make mass transit a human rights issue?

    Why not make it a state security issue because the economy dies without it?

    If Michigan has a $45 billion budget why not force the state to allocate $1 billion every year?

    Mass transit in metro Detroit alone is the lynchpin to the state's economy. Why not make this a statewide campaign?

  2. #2
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    “It kind of seems though,” McCarus said, “that this is more of Detroit aiming low.”

    Agreed.

  3. #3
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    Our "low" is their "high".

    Let's remember that there are a lot of people who think transit is a waste of money and that we shouldn't even consider funding it with $40 registration fees. Are these people backwards thinking and closed-minded in my opinion? Yes.

    But in times of intense political polarization and extreme views coming from everywhere, it's the reasonable and pragmatic views that will win over the independents/moderates.

    Framing this as a human rights issue may energize the base, but do not hing to win over the moderates on each side. Detroit has been doing things in the name of "human rights" issues for decades, many times with good intentions followed by horrible execution and then leaving things worse than they were before. I'd consider an RTA a major victory, considering we've failed at putting one together 30+ times. Let's not frame this as a "rights' issue. Let's frame it as a "business" issue and we'll get this through.

    Detroit no longer has the political clout to "force" the state to do anything, let alone demand a $1B slice of the state budget.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaiko View Post
    Mass transit in metro Detroit alone is the lynchpin to the state's economy. Why not make this a statewide campaign?
    LOL, no.

    Maybe 5% of the region (if that) regularly uses mass transit. Of that subcategory, I would bet a majority are below the poverty line.

    It sucks for those folks, and we should do much more to assist in their mobility, but transit is close-to-irrelevent for most Michiganians, which is why your ideas have no chance of political traction in Lansing.

    The auto industry and, to a much lesser extent, tourism, are the lynchpins of the state economy.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by corktownyuppie View Post
    Our "low" is their "high".

    Let's remember that there are a lot of people who think transit is a waste of money and that we shouldn't even consider funding it with $40 registration fees. Are these people backwards thinking and closed-minded in my opinion? Yes.

    But in times of intense political polarization and extreme views coming from everywhere, it's the reasonable and pragmatic views that will win over the independents/moderates.

    Framing this as a human rights issue may energize the base, but do not hing to win over the moderates on each side. Detroit has been doing things in the name of "human rights" issues for decades, many times with good intentions followed by horrible execution and then leaving things worse than they were before. I'd consider an RTA a major victory, considering we've failed at putting one together 30+ times. Let's not frame this as a "rights' issue. Let's frame it as a "business" issue and we'll get this through.

    Detroit no longer has the political clout to "force" the state to do anything, let alone demand a $1B slice of the state budget.

    Very well stated. For any number of reasons, and despite a very vocal minority view (that I am not necessarily suggeesting is wrong), taxpayer-funded LRT was sort of the cart before the horse in this climate Cynacism aside, there's nothng wrong with hoping a RTA leads to more positive changes and options in mass transit around here.

  6. #6
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    I say put those mass transit proposals back in the self. If Detroit's population and regional infrastructure is back on track, then we could have more mass transit.

  7. #7
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    The answer is in the term itself MASS Transit. Without capacity ridership no transit system can support itself. There is not enough support for the current system mainly because it is so unreliable. Without a greater demand it will never move forward. It's a definite catch 22.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bham1982 View Post
    LOL, no.

    Maybe 5% of the region (if that) regularly uses mass transit. Of that subcategory, I would bet a majority are below the poverty line.

    It sucks for those folks, and we should do much more to assist in their mobility, but transit is close-to-irrelevent for most Michiganians, which is why your ideas have no chance of political traction in Lansing.

    The auto industry and, to a much lesser extent, tourism, are the lynchpins of the state economy.
    5% use mass transit for a lot of reasons, but not BECAUSE it sucks to be them. We've built this region to serve the automobile and the automobile alone. We put nothing into transit-- less than any other metro region-- and then exclaim, "See, transit doesn't work." Why does it suck to be without a car here? Take a look at the way we treat people who don't have a car-- they have to stand in the mud in somebody's front yard to wait for a bus that may never come, and when it does come, it won't stop unless you flag it down, even if you are standing at a marked stop. In other words-- you have to be made small, and then you have to beg for the bus to stop. We don't stop there-- if you do scrape up the $8500 per year it costs to own and operate a car (check the numbers-- it is true), and you don't have a new model, we still verbally abuse you behind your back. If you are making, say, $32,000 a year for a family of four, you don't fall into the impoverished category (below $22 K), but you are spending a quarter of your total income on a car to get around in a major metropolitan area, because that is just the way we do it here. That's one reason, by the way, that housing prices never hit the heights they did in other cities-- our income is dedicated to private transportation, and our taxes are dedicated to building and maintaining highways. A million bucks per lane per mile. Gas taxes only cover part of the cost of that-- not even close to fully paying for the roads.

    In Los Angeles, transit really got "political traction" when an earthquake-- I think it was the Northridge-- destroyed the highway infrastructure, particularly on I-5 between downtown and the Valley. People screamed that there weren't enough trains, and it was a long time before the roads were repaired. In the 17 years since then, they've begun a pretty decent rail system, augmented by busses. If a system can be built in LA, which sprawls even more than this region, we can certainly build one. Five dollar gas will push it through, and no amount of government subsidies will build a pipeline that will make the gas cheaper. Then middle class people will demand-- and have the clout to bring about-- a system that doesn't make you stand in the mud.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wheels View Post
    The answer is in the term itself MASS Transit. Without capacity ridership no transit system can support itself. There is not enough support for the current system mainly because it is so unreliable. Without a greater demand it will never move forward. It's a definite catch 22.
    Both Woodward and Gratiot have very strong bus ridership. If Woodward were light rail and had the same ridership (even though we would figure ridership would increase if it were light rail), it would have one of the highest boardings per mile in the country. The same goes for Gratiot.

    No matter how you look at the numbers there's a strong case for improved (and better than BRT...) transit on those corridors, and the Big Beaver/Hall Road connection is a very natural connection to make after deciding on Woodward and Gratiot.

  10. #10
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    ParkGuy,

    I want to recognize your strong argument here. I've never heard it put that way before. You are informing me.

    ""you are spending a quarter of your total income on a car to get around in a major metropolitan area, because that is just the way we do it here. That's one reason, by the way, that housing prices never hit the heights they did in other cities-- our income is dedicated to private transportation, and our taxes are dedicated to building and maintaining highways. A million bucks per lane per mile. Gas taxes only cover part of the cost of that-- not even close to fully paying for the roads. "

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zaiko View Post
    ParkGuy,

    I want to recognize your strong argument here. I've never heard it put that way before. You are informing me.

    ""you are spending a quarter of your total income on a car to get around in a major metropolitan area, because that is just the way we do it here. That's one reason, by the way, that housing prices never hit the heights they did in other cities-- our income is dedicated to private transportation, and our taxes are dedicated to building and maintaining highways. A million bucks per lane per mile. Gas taxes only cover part of the cost of that-- not even close to fully paying for the roads. "
    But it's a completely unsubstantiated claim.

    The claim is that Metro Detroit property values lag because folks are paying a higher proportion of their salaries on auto-related expenses.

    But there's no evidence that this is actually happening. Every U.S. Metro has an overwhelming proportion of households with at least one vehicle, and most U.S. households have at least two vehicles.

    There's no evidence that vehicle ownership rates are higher in Metro Detroit, nor evidence that the relative costs of such ownership are higher locally than nationally.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bham1982 View Post
    But it's a completely unsubstantiated claim.

    The claim is that Metro Detroit property values lag because folks are paying a higher proportion of their salaries on auto-related expenses.

    But there's no evidence that this is actually happening. Every U.S. Metro has an overwhelming proportion of households with at least one vehicle, and most U.S. households have at least two vehicles.

    There's no evidence that vehicle ownership rates are higher in Metro Detroit, nor evidence that the relative costs of such ownership are higher locally than nationally.
    Here's some of that "no evidence":

    http://www.transact.org/library/repo...end_report.pdf


    In 2003, Detroit was #3 of 28 in transportation spending as a percentage of household income, at 20.5% (only Houston and Cleveland were higher). With the dramatic rise in gas prices in the nine years since, one can only imagine this percentage has grown.

    For those curious but not inclined to read the report, the bottom 5 were (in order):

    Philadelphia (15.9%), Washington, New York, Portland, and Baltimore (14.0%).
    Last edited by ghettopalmetto; February-25-12 at 07:33 PM.

  13. #13
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    Here's some of that "no evidence":
    Thanks for posting the link--I would have had to go looking for it or something like it. This isn't something that is completely unstudied.

    However, I have to say that I don't think that Detroit's transportation costs are the main reason houses have been traditionally relatively cheap. That is because there are no barriers to supply, because there is basically no regional planning process and no limit to the number of enormous roads the state is willing to build into the middle of nowhere to support more building, and there are no natural constraints to expansion in any direction but Canada.

    The causation runs in the other direction--sprawl increases transportation costs, because you need more cars, the cars have to go farther, and because you have to finance all the roads. Cars have a lot of benefits, but as a transportation system they are pretty expensive.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwilbert View Post
    Thanks for posting the link--I would have had to go looking for it or something like it. This isn't something that is completely unstudied.

    However, I have to say that I don't think that Detroit's transportation costs are the main reason houses have been traditionally relatively cheap. That is because there are no barriers to supply, because there is basically no regional planning process and no limit to the number of enormous roads the state is willing to build into the middle of nowhere to support more building, and there are no natural constraints to expansion in any direction but Canada.

    The causation runs in the other direction--sprawl increases transportation costs, because you need more cars, the cars have to go farther, and because you have to finance all the roads. Cars have a lot of benefits, but as a transportation system they are pretty expensive.
    That's an interesting point--I never quite thought about it like that before. At the same time, though, a family in say, Suburban Maryland might own one car, but they can only own ONE car if they choose. That same family in suburban Detroit could easily have four cars--one for each person above 16--and pay the requisite gas, maintenance, and insurance on each.

  15. #15
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    If BRT planning fails, I don't want to hear a damned thing about how the "light rail whiners" supposedly killed it..

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