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  #121  
Old Posted Aug 8, 2011, 3:20 PM
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I personally think that there are a few higher priorities than extending this line to Birmingham. Priority number 1 should be connecting it with the airport via the A2 - Detroit commuter rail line. But if they can come up with a way to pay for it then G-d Bless.
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  #122  
Old Posted Aug 9, 2011, 6:55 AM
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It'll already be connected to the SEMCOG commuter rail by virtue of passing the New Center station. That's a seperate project already being worked on. Studying pushing it through to Oakland County doesn't take away from what's already being worked on in terms of the commuter rail. These are two different modes of transport.
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  #123  
Old Posted Aug 10, 2011, 12:45 AM
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So I'm assuming the little mini-map mocked up by the Freep isn't based on anything? I'm no urban planner, but I pretty much assume that the route will have to come within 1/4th of a mile of the heart of royal oak (maybe up main / down washington) Last I checked 11 Mile and Woodward isn't a desirable place to board or alight from a train.
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  #124  
Old Posted Aug 10, 2011, 6:51 AM
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Yeah, not really sure. You'd think it'd veer away from Woodward at points to pick up the downtowns and retail/business districts right of the avenue, but every map I've ever seen show the thing religiously following Woodward at least up to Birmingham. Yeah, I'd just chalk it up to it not having been fully fleshed out above 8 Mile yet. I'm guessing that's what the study is for.
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  #125  
Old Posted Aug 31, 2011, 10:04 AM
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Can't believe anyone would be complaining about raising the PM fair from $0.50 to a dollar, which is still a huge bargain. They should have proposed this long time ago, if you ask me. Heck, if they were going to really doing something with the system, I'd not mind paying the same fare as to ride DDOT.

Quote:
People Mover seeks first fare hike

Darren A. Nichols and Josh Katzenstein / The Detroit News

August 31, 2011

Detroit —The Detroit People Mover wants to raise fares for the first time in its often derided, consistently money-losing history.

Weeks after the City Council trimmed the system's $4.4 million annual subsidy by $1 million, officials who operate the trains that have circled downtown since 1987 plan to meet today to consider boosting the 50-cent fare.

The Detroit Transportation Corp. has scheduled three public hearings in September over the change, but officials won't reveal what they're proposing until its board meets at 3 p.m. today.

Some City Council members say the increase is overdue, since the system was supposed to be self-sufficient when it opened.

It's never come close: In 2010, $900,000 of its $10.7 million in revenue came from fares, while most of the rest came from state, city and federal coffers.

"We're in a financial crisis, and what people need to realize is when the cost of living increases, so does the cost of running the system," said City Council President Charles Pugh.

"We just can't keep expecting only general fund tax dollars to fund (the system). Public transit is a necessity."

...
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  #126  
Old Posted Aug 31, 2011, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by LMich View Post
Can't believe anyone would be complaining about raising the PM fair from $0.50 to a dollar, which is still a huge bargain. They should have proposed this long time ago, if you ask me. Heck, if they were going to really doing something with the system, I'd not mind paying the same fare as to ride DDOT.
If they really want to do something with this system, every paid inbound LRT or bus fare should include a free transfer to the People Mover.
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  #127  
Old Posted Aug 31, 2011, 11:40 AM
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If they really want to do something with this system, every paid inbound LRT or bus fare should include a free transfer to the People Mover.
Good idea. I wonder if they ever thought of it? Maybe, you should email them about it.
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  #128  
Old Posted Aug 31, 2011, 6:14 PM
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Good idea. I wonder if they ever thought of it? Maybe, you should email them about it.
I think I will. It seems like a no-brainer, considering the LRT won't go to Greektown or the RenCen. Having a free transfer would boost the utility of both systems. Who would I e-mail about it?
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  #129  
Old Posted Sep 1, 2011, 9:40 AM
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You know, I used to have a DDOT email contact, but I don't even think I can find it in my email address books, and with all of the layoffs over the past few years, I'd not be surprised to find that he's no longer with DDOT. It's pretty sad how bush league the city is when it comes email contacts and social networking. Everything still seems to be done by phone where it's much easier to give the run-around trying to connect you up with the appropriate party...

Anyway, lol, looks like they are only going for a quarter raise on the fare, which by their own admission will only cover the cost of the existing service for a few extra weeks. Unless some new revenue is found, looks like the PM won't be running at regular night or weekend services:

Quote:

MANDI WRIGHT/Detroit Free Press

People Mover likely to cut back on service as money dries up

Matt Helms | Detroit Free Press

September 1, 2011

ecember, city officials said Wednesday, as the rail line's management board approved a 25-cent fare hike that they said, at best, might keep it moving a few extra weeks at its current service level.

Officials said reducing hours and days of operation is a more likely remedy than shutting down the rail line outright, a drastic measure that would undercut the city's effort to build a new light-rail line along Woodward Avenue.

Regular night and weekend service, for one, could be ended or reduced except for times when special events with higher ridership warrant keeping the People Mover open, the officials said.

The board of the Detroit Transportation Corp., which operates the People Mover, approved the fare increase from 50 cents to 75 cents, the first increase since the 2.9-mile downtown line opened in 1987. The fare hike would take effect in early November, after public hearings this month.

The City Council's budget deal with Mayor Dave Bing cut $1 million in annual People Mover subsidies. That $1 million had enabled the city to get another $2.6 million in state transit funding. So without it, there's a combined $3.6-million hole in the People Mover's annual $19-million budget.

...
It seems like every major Detroit institution is always and forever in crisis mode, these days. Something will probably be worked out, like it always is, but everything is being chipped away at to the point of where it doesn't even make sense for people to support these institutions, anymore, because their support alone isn't enough to stop the inevitable.

BTW, a really great pic from the News' take on the story:


Elizabeth Conley / The Detroit News
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  #130  
Old Posted Sep 2, 2011, 12:49 AM
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Subliminal messaging.
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  #131  
Old Posted Sep 2, 2011, 3:05 AM
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The DPM is a national embarrassment for an urban transit system. Its cool that some of it's stations are incorporated into buildings, but it is nothing more than a novelty.
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  #132  
Old Posted Sep 2, 2011, 8:44 AM
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Anyway.....

Quote:
Woodward Ave. light-rail project clears feds’ environmental regulatory hurdle

Bill Shea | Crain's Detroit Business

September 1, 2011

The proposal to build a light-rail line along Woodward Avenue in Detroit meets federal environmental regulatory guidelines, according to the U.S. government.

The Federal Transit Administration issued a record of decision Wednesday saying the $528 million project by the Detroit Department of Transportation satisfies the requirements of the National Environmental Protection Act.

The decision doesn’t mean the project is green-lighted for funding. The city still must apply for an estimated $318 million under the FTA’s New Starts funding program for the nine-mile, 19-stop line from downtown Detroit to the city limits at Eight Mile Road.

If approved for the money, DDOT would commence construction in the spring, and the line could be running by 2015. An additional $100 million for the capital costs is coming from the private sector.

The proposed line primarily would occupy the center two lanes of Woodward Avenue, separate from traffic, but switch to a curbside alignment shared with traffic south of Campus Martius Park.
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  #133  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2011, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Detroit could turn over management of light-rail project to group of experts

By Matt Helms and John Gallagher | Detroit Free Press

September 15, 2011

In one of the clearest signals yet that the $500-million Woodward Light Rail project is on track, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing plans to hand over management control to the Detroit Economic Growth Corp., according to people familiar with the proposal.

The DEGC, a quasi-governmental body created in the 1970s to hire skilled professionals to attract major redevelopment projects, has led or assisted in most of the city's biggest downtown projects in recent memory, including revitalizing the riverfront, renovating the Book-Cadillac Hotel and cleaning up downtown for Super Bowl XL.

Bing may present the proposal to the City Council early next week. Three officials briefed on the matter confirmed the proposal to the Free Press, but spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions are ongoing.

...

Putting the ambitious rail project under the DEGC has many benefits: It puts the project in the hands of development experts and should speed the process by cutting through political bickering between Bing and the City Council over management and help smooth over the bumpy relations with M-1 Rail -- a group of wealthy private investors who have quietly expressed displeasure with the Bing administration's management of the project so far.

...
I hope this transfer of responsibility goes off without a hitch, and that it is done quickly. It's time to stop the foot-dragging. Next step is the most contentious: the formation of a regional authority to run the thing. This seems particularly difficult given that the first part of this, the actual Woodward Line, is entirely within the city, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the suburbs balk at a regional tax for something that doesn't yet even stretch into their borders.
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  #134  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2011, 12:35 PM
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Democracy is dirty. I don't know a lot about DEGC, but I don't necessarily like the idea of there being virtually no checks and balances. Economic development types usually give me the heebie jeebies with what they're willing to do in the name of "growth" or "attracting talent".

Although I'm really hopeful, I don't think we'll see anything close to a regional authority until south Oakland gets the funding this year to do a study, decides if it's feasible, and go from there--they'd probably have to partner with Detroit to make any application have a shot at winning federal funding. Maybe at that point they'll realize, "Hey, wha? We can't have our own?". Ha. I think they are slowly--very slowly--starting to see the big picture, and there is a changing tide. The Woodward Corridor is so incredibly valuable to the region.

Riddle me this--could Detroit form a regional rail authority with just the cities that the rail will touch? Detroit-Ferndale-Royal Oak-Birmingham-Troy regional rail authority? It sounds kind of ridiculous, but if you can't get all of Oakland Co. on board, what are the disadvantages of trying it that way? Too cost prohibitive? And perhaps if it is successful, it could prove to neighboring communities to "jump on board"? There will always be the Livonia's of the world, but why make everyone else suffer if the county is dysfunctional?
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  #135  
Old Posted Sep 15, 2011, 8:50 PM
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Originally Posted by subterranean View Post
Riddle me this--could Detroit form a regional rail authority with just the cities that the rail will touch? Detroit-Ferndale-Royal Oak-Birmingham-Troy regional rail authority? It sounds kind of ridiculous, but if you can't get all of Oakland Co. on board, what are the disadvantages of trying it that way? Too cost prohibitive? And perhaps if it is successful, it could prove to neighboring communities to "jump on board"? There will always be the Livonia's of the world, but why make everyone else suffer if the county is dysfunctional?
I'm not sure about Michigan laws, but in Texas individual cities hold referendums over forming Individual or joining Regional transit agencies. Isn't it easier to get favorable votes in a few Cities vs an entire County? For example, DCTA (Denton County Transit) was formed because the vote passed in just 3 cities, although it failed in far more cities, and would have failed the entire county. The three cities that passed the referendum were on the most likely rail corridor. Most of the others where the vote failed weren't on the most likely rail corridor.

I would think it would be far easier to get individual cities to pass a vote if they were situated on a most likely rail corridor project, even in Michigan.
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  #136  
Old Posted Sep 16, 2011, 6:12 AM
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Originally Posted by subterranean View Post
Democracy is dirty. I don't know a lot about DEGC, but I don't necessarily like the idea of there being virtually no checks and balances. Economic development types usually give me the heebie jeebies with what they're willing to do in the name of "growth" or "attracting talent".

Although I'm really hopeful, I don't think we'll see anything close to a regional authority until south Oakland gets the funding this year to do a study, decides if it's feasible, and go from there--they'd probably have to partner with Detroit to make any application have a shot at winning federal funding. Maybe at that point they'll realize, "Hey, wha? We can't have our own?". Ha. I think they are slowly--very slowly--starting to see the big picture, and there is a changing tide. The Woodward Corridor is so incredibly valuable to the region.

Riddle me this--could Detroit form a regional rail authority with just the cities that the rail will touch? Detroit-Ferndale-Royal Oak-Birmingham-Troy regional rail authority? It sounds kind of ridiculous, but if you can't get all of Oakland Co. on board, what are the disadvantages of trying it that way? Too cost prohibitive? And perhaps if it is successful, it could prove to neighboring communities to "jump on board"? There will always be the Livonia's of the world, but why make everyone else suffer if the county is dysfunctional?
The DEGC is only supposed to be a placeholder until a regional authority is formed. I doubt the feds would even recognize the DEGC as a "regional authority" if the city tried. I wouldn't even want the DEGC managing the system long term, because they aren't a transit agency nor would they be accountable directly to the ridership. That said, anyone who can take this out of the hands of the city council and mayor, temporarily, is a good thing, because they've been dicking around with this for years now, arguing over petty minutiae.

As for the last part, sure, they could work with individual communities. In fact, the Woodward suburbs raised the idea months ago about studying going in alone if they have to, though, I'm not sure where that ended up. SMART is currently just like this; cities can opt in or out of the authority. As you said, though, this would really be better by county to spread the price. I'm not sure if those small communities could come up with enough to justify building an extension given that the line is already going to start out financially squeezed.
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  #137  
Old Posted Oct 1, 2011, 7:53 AM
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Quote:
Metro Detroit leaders to unite for public transit

BY ERIC D. LAWRENCE | DETROIT FREE PRESS
Oct 1, 2011

Metro Detroit leaders will work together to advocate for a regional transportation authority and help capture untapped federal funding, those attending Friday's 2011 Southeast Michigan Regional Summit said.

The group will present a unified front, said Macomb County Commissioner David Flynn, a member of the advocacy group announced at the summit -- Regional Partners Advocating Transit Here, or R-PATH.

"A regional authority allows us to build up a first-class system, which the people of our region deserve," said Flynn, a Democrat representing Sterling Heights.

Citing statistics that show $1 of public investment in regional transportation corridors leads to $6 in private funds, Flynn said: "Regional transportation is worth the investment."

The summit featured a panel of speakers from Denver discussing that area's Regional Transportation District and its ambitious expansion efforts for light rail. This year's event, formerly the Tri-County Summit, was hosted by Macomb County commissioners and included representatives from St. Clair and Washtenaw counties, as well as those from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties and the City of Detroit.

But despite the summit's focus on the benefits of regional transportation, not everyone in attendance was sold on the idea.

Oakland County Commissioner Jeffery Matis, a Republican representing Rochester and part of Rochester Hills, said he does not know how viable a regional transportation authority would be.

"Cost is a big concern," he said, noting that many municipalities are cutting back on services such as police. "At the end of the day, I'm against any tax increase."

Detroit is to host next year's summit, and Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh, who also is a member of the R-PATH advocacy group, said he wants to focus on service sharing and consolidation.

"I'm encouraged. These kinds of regional discussions are something we need to have more often," he said, suggesting that quarterly meetings would be a good way to expand the effort.
http://www.freep.com/article/2011100...public-transit
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  #138  
Old Posted Oct 3, 2011, 10:13 AM
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Detroit TRU (Transit Riders United) has a post up on their website showing that every Metro Detroit county commission (and the Detroit city council) has either passed, or will be passing, a non-binding resolution putting their support behind the idea of a regional transit authority. This is really kind of unprecedented, but it will all by for nothing if they don't pretty quickly agree on how they want to fund the new authority. It's good to support in words the concept of a regional authority, but the suburbs in particular -- at the county level -- are quickly coming upon the point where they are going to have to put their money where their mouths are.

They are going to have to do way better than what they've done with SMART, which is truly an embarrassing system for how large its potential service area is. What this will mean is that there will have to be some buy-in t the county level, because they go like they did with SMART where you allow individual communities to opt-in and out of the system, and you're essentially dooming the system before it even starts.

This seems like this is going to be the problem of starting it. Counties and municipalities can't institute a sales tax; that's only the province of a state, so the state would have to agree to raise the sales tax, and not only would that be impossible with this particularl legislature, but raising a state tax to help Metro Detroit seems very unlikely even in a better political climate. The other possibility are county-wide millages, which seem even less likely to be successful. You might get a majority of Wayne County voters to approve a transit millage; you'd probably never get Macomb and definitely not Oakland. The last option seems to be the increase of the hotel and/or liquor taxes like is down with Cobo, which would probably only be enough to supplement the running of the system or maybe for capital costs.

It might end up that this will be a very complicated funding mechanism with a little from each of these. And then, this doesn't even address how you wind down SMART and DDOT's operations, including their debt.
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  #139  
Old Posted Oct 3, 2011, 1:05 PM
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"I'm encouraged. These kinds of regional discussions are something we need to have more often," he said, suggesting that quarterly meetings would be a good way to expand the effort.
While I appreciate the fact that they're actually meeting, I think this statement gets at the heart of the regionalism mentality in Southeast Michigan (or lack thereof). OK--maybe I'm a bit jaded, but I just don't have much faith at all in these people.

The governor is definitely behind transit and regionalism, and I'm not smacking my stamp of approval on this person wholesale by any means, but he's got the support from the legislature on basically every issue that's come to the table, so why not this? His staff know the benefits of regionalism from a business perspective. He should be pushing this regional authority as an economic development driver and working with the suburban counties to sign on. If they don't, then make it a mandate funded by raising the gas tax and carve out that increment for the authority.
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  #140  
Old Posted Oct 13, 2011, 11:09 AM
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You know, after reading these two pieces by Jeff Gerritt of the Detroit Free Press, it looks like that if Metro Detroit doesn't find someway to wrap its arms around the fact that you need a regional mass transit system in a metropolitan area of 4.3 million, and I mean wrap their minds around it fast, there won't there be a Woodward Light Rail. And, quite frankly, why should there be if you can't solve this very simple problem?

Quote:
SMART to announce 22% cut; region must act now

By Jeff Gerritt | Detroit Free Press

October 13, 2011

Budget cuts and a spat between mechanics and Mayor Dave Bing have already crippled bus service in Detroit, leaving frustrated riders waiting, sometimes for hours, at crowded bus stops.

But with colossal cuts in suburban service just ahead, the region's transit troubles are about to blow up, stranding and inconveniencing thousands more commuters.

This crisis should finally push shot-callers in Detroit and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties to create a regional transit system to run well-funded and reliable buses, as well as planned light-rail service.

SMART General Manager John Hertel will today announce cuts in service of 22%, effective Dec. 12. That's almost one-fourth of an already anemic network of routes and stops in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties -- a service area further weakened because 50 communities opt out entirely.

Layoff notices affecting 123 drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, cleaners and others went to union officials Wednesday.


SMART, with 850 employees, will reduce hours of service, eliminate some routes and serve others with less frequent stops. It will announce service changes in November, after public hearings in all three counties.

...

Given the problems facing the Detroit Department of Transportation, however, and its 120,000 daily riders, the timing couldn't get much worse. Up to 40% of SMART's 40,000 daily riders are Detroiters headed to suburban jobs -- work they can't find in the city. In recent years, SMART ridership hit record levels.

Over the last five years, DDOT has cut a third of its service -- and probably more -- as the city whittled DDOT's budget from $80 million to $53 million a year. But the suburban bus cuts are SMART's first ever -- and unavoidable, Hertel said.

SMART will get 11% less from its tax millage this year because of depressed property values. Over the last three years, it lost 24% of those dollars, amounting to $15 million a year. SMART's 0.59-mill property tax -- the third lowest transit tax in the state -- generates $28.5 million a year. That's 25% of its $114-million budget.

DDOT cuts have also hurt SMART. Both receive state and federal funding, as one unit, through the Regional Transit Coordinating Council. (SMART gets 35%; DDOT gets 65%.) When DDOT cuts service -- and therefore eligible expenses -- state and federal dollars to both agencies drop. DDOT's cuts could cost SMART up to $5 million next year, Deputy General Manager John Swatosh told me.

...

With fewer resources, SMART and DDOT must, together, figure out how to make best use of what they have by better coordinating routes, setting up a single customer-service line and map, and making joint purchases.

But those changes won't fix a region that invests less, per person, on transit than any other in the nation.

...
Quote:
Waiting, waiting, waiting ... for a better bus system

By Jeff Gerritt | Detroit Free Press

October 9, 2011

Riders at crowded Detroit bus stops boil with frustration and anger -- much of it aimed at Mayor Dave Bing. Sometimes waiting for hours, they miss work, classes, job interviews, medical appointments.

In the last four months, city bus service has crumbled into a crisis, stranding many of the nearly 30% of Detroit households that don't have vehicles. If this debacle had happened to anyone but Detroit's poor, politicians and pundits would scream for action.

But the mayor better hear these bus blues and act as though his job depended on it -- because it probably does.

...

Poor bus service is hardly news in the Motor City. For decades, Detroit and its suburbs have operated the nation's most underfunded transit system. Southeast Michigan spends less per capita on transit than any other metropolitan region -- about 25 cents for every dollar spent nationally.

...

More than 40% of Detroit's buses are typically out of service, compared to 5% to 20% of fleets in other cities, and 13% for SMART. A recent audit showed preventive maintenance often failed to occur on schedule.

...
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