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  1. #26

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    Surprising, swingline, because Hackel is a Democrat. I guess he's more of a DINO. But valid points, indeed.

  2. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Junjie View Post
    I share your frustration. Mostly, though, I'm frustrated at the RTA's campaign, which I think was pretty poorly run. Yes, easy to say in retrospect and I'm sure a lot of people worked hard on it, but I'm more critical of them than of folks like scooter.

    1. The messaging focused on poor people and seniors - true enough but "give tax money for charity" is a losing message.

    2. As scooter's post shows, people do not have a good understanding of the fact that they may live in regions that are impossible to serve cost-effectively with transit. Education on transit basics (such as you point to in your post) is very badly needed. Two years of weekly public lectures. Morning show appearances. I don't know. But something.

    3. No publicizing of the fact that this was a very SMALL amount of money being asked for. A little more than 1 years' budget for a major transit agency in a similar sized region, except spread over 20 years for Detroit. Present this as "getting off the ground" - future service may well come to 32 Mile or whatever but it will take more money (see #2).

    And, on the original topic, Ford had similar expense problems in Ann Arbor. His main qualification seemed to be being in charge when they passed the AATA millage, but that was in one small, deeply liberal college town. I'm sure he's a smart guy but given that this seems to be a pattern, we need to poach someone from Denver, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Seattle, or similar with experience getting funding for regional transit in a bigger metro.
    Thanks, great points, I agree the RTA plan was not properly publicized and that the leadership should be replaced before more 'told-ya-so' damage is done. But I would not blame the plan over incompetent and bigoted voters. In any other region/city, public transportation is a no-brainer. Even solidly conservative cities in the West and South are embracing public transit, rail, BRT, etc. Michiganders seem to like to play the victim/blame game, and not look forward. Imagine if the RTA actually DID send busses up to Romeo, people up there would be complaining about a 'bus to nowhere' in no time. I say leave those communities out of the plan, divide Oakland and Macomb into northern and southern areas, and have the communities of the southern areas fund the plan. Romeo is better off being connected to Flint than Detroit. So if the RTA wants to team up with Flint to connect the northern reaches of Oakland and Macomb to that area, then I'm all for it...

  3. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by swingline View Post
    All excellent points.

    Another point. Mark Hackel has probably done more to thwart regional transit than anyone in the region including LBP. Based upon Mr. Hackel's response to Mr. Ford's screwup, one can only conclude that he simply opposes improved regional transit (even though he occasionally voices tepid support), or that he truly is clueless about transit, economic development and politics. By addressing such a relatively minor matter as these expenses with such a public rebuke, he contributes immeasurably to the political strength of Macomb County's sizable anti tax, anti transit, low information voter bloc. After Mr. Hackel's outburst, now these voter's in their minds don't have to listen to or debate the potential benefits of regional transit, all they will remember is that the transit effort is being run by a black guy who has got his hand in the till.

    Yes, now that this has become such a public mess, Mr. Ford should probably go. Quickly. But a smart politician that understood the issues and actually supported transit would have had no comment to the media and made sure that this was handled in a much quieter and private manner so that it didn't poison transit opportunities for the future. Mr. Hackel didn't do that. He has inflicted a lot of damage. A lot more than Mr. Ford. He is an idiot.

    This is crisis time for the RTA. They need to go out of state for a new CEO. They need to find a Republican who will stand up publicly in support of regional transit and who can help with funding for the next two years.
    Completely agree. See also the whole holding the millage vote ransom for governance changes to give individual counties a veto.

  4. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gsgeorge View Post
    Thanks, great points, I agree the RTA plan was not properly publicized and that the leadership should be replaced before more 'told-ya-so' damage is done. But I would not blame the plan over incompetent and bigoted voters. In any other region/city, public transportation is a no-brainer. Even solidly conservative cities in the West and South are embracing public transit, rail, BRT, etc. Michiganders seem to like to play the victim/blame game, and not look forward. Imagine if the RTA actually DID send busses up to Romeo, people up there would be complaining about a 'bus to nowhere' in no time. I say leave those communities out of the plan, divide Oakland and Macomb into northern and southern areas, and have the communities of the southern areas fund the plan. Romeo is better off being connected to Flint than Detroit. So if the RTA wants to team up with Flint to connect the northern reaches of Oakland and Macomb to that area, then I'm all for it...
    I see what you're saying but am trying to be pragmatic:

    1. The RTA is a state creation and I'm not going to hold out hope for them to restructure such that northern Macomb and Oakland are lopped off. Though, yeah, that would fix the problem. Align the structure with the areas that actually want lots of transit.

    2. Since RTA is not changing, we need to convince some of those voters. Remember that the vote was EXTREMELY close (50.5 - 49.5). We don't need to convince 80% of them. Just 10% would have done it.

    3. Some people are bigoted, for sure... but I think a lot of them also just don't have any experience or knowledge when it comes to public transit. This is to be expected - they live in a region that has the least and worst transit of any city its size in the country. Since we only need a few of them (2) and we can't change the structure (1), it all comes down to the approach, good leadership, and reaching out with education.

    4. Lots of other regions turned down transit multiple times before finally turning the tide. Check out the history of regional transit in Seattle, which everyone assumes is a super-progressive wonderland, for a good example of this. I am honestly more surprised that we almost succeeded in 2016 than I am that it failed. But this is why we have to get credible leadership and a better plan in place for 2020. 2016 was a first attempt, not a high water mark.

  5. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gsgeorge View Post
    Thanks, great points, I agree the RTA plan was not properly publicized and that the leadership should be replaced before more 'told-ya-so' damage is done. But I would not blame the plan over incompetent and bigoted voters. In any other region/city, public transportation is a no-brainer. Even solidly conservative cities in the West and South are embracing public transit, rail, BRT, etc. Michiganders seem to like to play the victim/blame game, and not look forward. Imagine if the RTA actually DID send busses up to Romeo, people up there would be complaining about a 'bus to nowhere' in no time. I say leave those communities out of the plan, divide Oakland and Macomb into northern and southern areas, and have the communities of the southern areas fund the plan. Romeo is better off being connected to Flint than Detroit. So if the RTA wants to team up with Flint to connect the northern reaches of Oakland and Macomb to that area, then I'm all for it...
    I would actually be in favor of splitting north Oakland and north Macomb (probably Hall Rd/South Blvd./Cooley Lake Rd.), save Pontiac, and combining them into one county and combing the southern portions of Warren and Oakland into one county. Obviously, the logistics of this would be a nightmare.

  6. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnnny5 View Post
    Totally true. That being said, you don't live out in the country and expect to be paying up to 10x as much as those in the city for a transit system that you can't use.
    This. Taxation should be weighted to geography, not home value. In most metros with regional taxes, the transit taxation is weighted highest in the regions best served by transit (so, for example, NYC residents pay more in MTA taxes than those in the Hudson Valley).

    And the regional plan made no sense. Metro Detroit doesn't have a mobility problem, it has an access problem. It isn't that there's some desperate need for middle class people to move around the region in buses, it's that there are hundreds of thousands of poor people in the region's core with piss-poor bus service.

    SMART, excepting a few corridors connecting Detroit to suburban job centers, is largely a waste of resources. We don't need more empty buses traveling down sidewalkless eight lane suburban highways. DDOT needs investment and service improvement. Screw Van Dyke and the like; newer areas (say post 1960) are a lost cause for transit.
    Last edited by Bham1982; March-03-17 at 12:05 PM.

  7. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bham1982 View Post
    This. Taxation should be weighted to geography, not home value. In most metros with regional taxes, the transit taxation is weighted highest in the regions best served by transit (so, for example, NYC residents pay more in MTA taxes than those in the Hudson Valley).
    Is there a way to do this within the existing RTA setup? E.g. could they charge 0.5 mill in rural/exurban townships and 1.5 mill in inner suburbs / Detroit / Ann Arbor? I don't know if that would be politically easier or harder - but wondering what the possibilities are without further legislation.

  8. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Junjie View Post
    Is there a way to do this within the existing RTA setup? E.g. could they charge 0.5 mill in rural/exurban townships and 1.5 mill in inner suburbs / Detroit / Ann Arbor? I don't know if that would be politically easier or harder - but wondering what the possibilities are without further legislation.
    That's an interesting concept. Typical urbanites choose high density living for the convenience of the services offered, city water, lighting, trash, police / fire, mobility choices. That is where the main services an operating RTA would be concentrated. Outlying areas might just need one stop every 5 miles or transit from village center to village center. Less service offered, less tax taken. Each somewhat providing the subsidy levels needed to help with essential transportation needs of that regions density.

  9. #34

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    If Mark Hackel is such the bad guy, how come his county is the only one with no opt-out communities on the SMART millage?

  10. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by eastland View Post
    If Mark Hackel is such the bad guy, how come his county is the only one with no opt-out communities on the SMART millage?
    Mark Hackel isn't responsible for that.

  11. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johnnny5 View Post
    So the RTA CEO had $5300 in cell phone expenses in a little over 2 years? (Maybe even more as that's just what he's agreed to pay back).
    I thought that seemed like a lot too, but $200/month over 2 years is $4800 so maybe it's not totally unreasonable. Maybe he has a shitty plan

  12. #37

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    Maybe Hackel actually gives a shit about Warren. It is the third largest city in the state and in his county.

    55 mills is already smothering Warren's appreciation rate and cranking it higher will only make it worse. A bunch of motor coaches won't help that in the real world. Next the flight steepens, everything goes to hell, schools, blight, crime, ability to mortgage, population drops fast. It's not like this script hasn't played out before in this state.

    Just a different theory. He is a democrat after all, he might give damn about his constituents. He sure doesn't like the idiot running Warren these days and that says something about his intelligence.
    Last edited by ABetterDetroit; March-03-17 at 04:02 PM.

  13. #38

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    Let's face it: people from Armada and Romeo want little or nothing to do with Detroit. Those towns aren't even exurbs. They have more in common with St. Clair. Or Bad Axe. It's unfortunate their votes count the same when it comes to matters such as this one that necessarily primarily affects Detroit and its suburbs. And for them I guess it's unfortunate their county is tied up in the dealings of Metro Detroit.

    Too bad we can't re-shape the county maps to group people in ways that make more sense.

  14. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by bust View Post
    Let's face it: people from Armada and Romeo want little or nothing to do with Detroit. Those towns aren't even exurbs. They have more in common with St. Clair. Or Bad Axe. It's unfortunate their votes count the same when it comes to matters such as this one that necessarily primarily affects Detroit and its suburbs. And for them I guess it's unfortunate their county is tied up in the dealings of Metro Detroit.

    Too bad we can't re-shape the county maps to group people in ways that make more sense.
    It's funny how that same standard doesn't seem to apply when it comes to things such as the HCMA (which Detroiters must support even though they don't have a park within the city limits and generally don't use the other parks)...

    But I digress...

  15. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by 313WX View Post
    It's funny how that same standard doesn't seem to apply when it comes to things such as the HCMA (which Detroiters must support even though they don't have a park within the city limits and generally don't use the other parks)...

    But I digress...
    They do have them in their county though; every city and town throughout the coverage are doesn't have a park either.
    Last edited by jcole; March-04-17 at 08:00 AM.

  16. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcole View Post
    They do have them in their county though; every city and town throughout the coverage are doesn't have a park either.
    Well that further proves my point. As someone earlier said, those people in Macomb can't see the forest for the trees.

  17. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Junjie View Post
    I share your frustration. Mostly, though, I'm frustrated at the RTA's campaign, which I think was pretty poorly run. Yes, easy to say in retrospect and I'm sure a lot of people worked hard on it, but I'm more critical of them than of folks like scooter.

    1. The messaging focused on poor people and seniors - true enough but "give tax money for charity" is a losing message.

    2. As scooter's post shows, people do not have a good understanding of the fact that they may live in regions that are impossible to serve cost-effectively with transit. Education on transit basics (such as you point to in your post) is very badly needed. Two years of weekly public lectures. Morning show appearances. I don't know. But something.

    3. No publicizing of the fact that this was a very SMALL amount of money being asked for. A little more than 1 years' budget for a major transit agency in a similar sized region, except spread over 20 years for Detroit. Present this as "getting off the ground" - future service may well come to 32 Mile or whatever but it will take more money (see #2).

    And, on the original topic, Ford had similar expense problems in Ann Arbor. His main qualification seemed to be being in charge when they passed the AATA millage, but that was in one small, deeply liberal college town. I'm sure he's a smart guy but given that this seems to be a pattern, we need to poach someone from Denver, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Seattle, or similar with experience getting funding for regional transit in a bigger metro.
    RTA should had focused on getting commuters from Romeo Plank to downtown Detroit not only to their places of employment downtown but to sporting events, and other activities happening downtown without having to pay for high parking rates

  18. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by 313WX View Post
    Well that further proves my point. As someone earlier said, those people in Macomb can't see the forest for the trees.
    How does that prove your point? Detroit doesn't have a HCMP in it's city limits but neither does any other city in the region and they still pay the taxes. 5 counties have parks and pay taxes on it, not individual cities.

  19. #44

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  20. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by drjeff View Post
    I thought that seemed like a lot too, but $200/month over 2 years is $4800 so maybe it's not totally unreasonable. Maybe he has a shitty plan
    Still, in 2017 a cell plan that is $200 per month for one line is far outside of what one would consider normal or reasonable. Maybe there's a good explanation for it being so high, but he did reimburse the RTA (After the charges were questioned) so I'd venture to say the likelihood of that is rather slim.

  21. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by stasu1213 View Post
    RTA should had focused on getting commuters from Romeo Plank to downtown Detroit not only to their places of employment downtown but to sporting events, and other activities happening downtown without having to pay for high parking rates
    Why should these be regional priorities? In 1950, yeah, but nowadays employment is regionally dispersed, very few exurbanites work downtown, there are no congestion issues headed downtown, and parking rates downtown are dirt cheap compared to other major cities.

    You really think there's an exurban demographic wishing for more buses to take them to Detroit? Why would you typical exurban family of four wait at a bus stop in January to take them downtown to an arena event? How is that easier than taking the SUV?

    Ever taken a stroller on public transit? It sucks even in the Paris-London-NYC type cities, with comprehensive transit. I can't imagine any non-poor rider would make this choice in Metro Detroit.

  22. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by jcole View Post
    How does that prove your point? Detroit doesn't have a HCMP in it's city limits but neither does any other city in the region and they still pay the taxes. 5 counties have parks and pay taxes on it, not individual cities.
    The folks in Macomb County seem to be of the mindset that because a bus isn't literally traveling down their block or if they're literally not "AIS" on these buses, there's no reason for them to support the RTA, even if it's for the greater good of the entire region (as Detroiters realize by supporting the HCMA).
    Last edited by 313WX; March-04-17 at 08:16 PM.

  23. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by 313WX View Post
    The folks in Macomb County seem to be of the mindset that because a bus isn't literally traveling down their block or if they're literally not "AIS" on these buses, there's no reason for them to support the RTA, even if it's for the greater good of the entire region (as Detroiters realize by supporting the HCMA).
    There is a park in their county within reasonable striking distance, the same as there is one in Wayne county at a reasonable distance for Detroiters to patronize. You're comparing apples to oranges with the transit. It won't be within reasonable distance for a lot of people in northern Macomb County. I don't agree with them not voting for the greater good and if I lived there I would vote for it, but I see the point of them rather having something they could use for their tax dollars. They aren't at all happy with paying for the Zoo and the DIA already, so this is one more thing for them to dissent about. Most of them would probably rather have some form of transport that takes them to Mt Clemens or Clinton Twp where many of them shop and work.
    If you lived in Detroit and Pontiac was putting in a system that would stop at 10 Mile and Telegraph, you wouldn't have a lot of use for it either.
    Last edited by jcole; March-04-17 at 08:27 PM.

  24. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by stasu1213 View Post
    RTA should had focused on getting commuters from Romeo Plank to downtown Detroit not only to their places of employment downtown but to sporting events, and other activities happening downtown without having to pay for high parking rates
    Maybe people on Romeo Plank want to go somewhere other than where you think. Not everyone wants to go downtown.

    I think regional transit is a great idea. But if we think of it as a 'downtown centric' system, we may be ignoring a lot of the population.

    (Recently, you can see what happens when you ignore the actual concerns of rural people in our Presidential choice. The next shock for the urban classes will be when PDT becomes increasingly popular. Heads will explode.)

    Another problem with regional transit is that a lot of people don't trust our bureaucrats and politicians to actually invest in transit -- but instead to create featherbedding factories. Its a side-effect of affirmative action coming back via the law of unintended consequences. Affirmative action leads to resistance to suburban transit funding. Whoda thunk.

  25. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wesley Mouch View Post
    Maybe people on Romeo Plank want to go somewhere other than where you think. Not everyone wants to go downtown.

    I think regional transit is a great idea. But if we think of it as a 'downtown centric' system, we may be ignoring a lot of the population.

    (Recently, you can see what happens when you ignore the actual concerns of rural people in our Presidential choice. The next shock for the urban classes will be when PDT becomes increasingly popular. Heads will explode.)

    Another problem with regional transit is that a lot of people don't trust our bureaucrats and politicians to actually invest in transit -- but instead to create featherbedding factories. Its a side-effect of affirmative action coming back via the law of unintended consequences. Affirmative action leads to resistance to suburban transit funding. Whoda thunk.
    Poor rural people. Everything is stacked against them. For example, as we all know, the Michigan transportation budget funds gold plated subways, light rail, and buses in urban areas like Detroit while spending next to nothing on highways. And similarly, their presidential choices have to get almost as many votes as the Democrat if they even want to win the election! How unfair! And then when tax season comes around, low-earning rural people have to wait up to six weeks to get a tax refund paid for by high-earning city dwellers. Yes, it's high time we all learned from the simple wisdom of rural America and lived within our means, after adjusting our means to include ongoing subsidies from others with higher-paying jobs who we can vilify.

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