Pontiac, Michigan — The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) Board of Directors postponed its vote today on the Draft Regional Master Transit Plan in order to address concerns Macomb and Oakland counties have about the plan. Both counties emphasized they support a regional transit plan, but want the RTA to take the time to do it right.
“I cannot in good conscience support the current plan which spends over $1.3 billion of Oakland County taxpayers’ dollars over 20 years but only gives our businesses, workforce, and residents a fraction of that back in transit services,” Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said.
“The current RTA plan falls short of achieving our county’s expectations for transit,” said Macomb County Executive Mark A. Hackel. “It is difficult for us to support a more than $4 billion commitment over the next two decades which could negatively impact our county’s longstanding commitment to transit especially the SMART system.”
The plan will collect $4.65 billion over 20 years of which $3.2 billion will come from taxpayers in Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. The remainder of the funds will come from state and federal sources.
Since the plan was released for public review in late May of this year officials from both Macomb and Oakland counties have been working with RTA administrators, transit advocates, and municipal leaders to examine the impact of the proposed strategies. These ongoing discussions have uncovered a number of concerns centered on finances, capital investments and administrative responsibilities. Both Oakland and Macomb County are committed to clarifying three overarching questions: What will Oakland and Macomb County taxpayers receive under the plan in exchange for their investment? When will the benefits be received? How will the RTA guarantee the delivery of those services?
Oakland and Macomb requested changes in the current plan and governance structure to:
“I supported the legislation to create the RTA. There are growing business clusters throughout Oakland County with thousands of jobs that people must be connected to. Effective regional transit that people can utilize to reliably commute to work is important for both employers and employees. The current RTA plan fails to accomplish that on virtually every level,” Patterson said.
The public needs a straightforward proposal that clearly identifies how the money will be spent,” Hackel said. “We remain dedicated to working with the RTA to develop such a proposal.”