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Michigan Environmental Council joins Safe Roads Yes! campaign, urges support for public transit

Mar 3, 2015

The Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) has joined the campaign urging Michigan voters to approve a May ballot proposal for safer roads and stronger public transit, the organization announced today.

MEC has long advocated for a comprehensive transportation funding solution that not only repairs roads and bridges but also provides much-needed support for local transit agencies, rail, recreational trails and other transportation infrastructure. Its board of directors recently voted to officially endorse the proposal and join the “Safe Roads Yes!” campaign.

“Our roads have become not only embarrassing but downright dangerous, and we can all see it’s long past time to fix them,” said Chris Kolb, MEC president. “Just as importantly, we cannot wait any longer to fix southeast Michigan’s broken transit system and provide better service statewide for our friends and neighbors who rely on public transportation every day. Proposal 1 is our best chance to build the safe, reliable and modern transportation system our state needs, and we urge Michiganders to seize this opportunity by voting yes.”

If approved, the proposal will increase annual support for transit by $116 million. That’s in addition to $1.3 billion per year in new revenue for roads and bridges, $200 million for public schools and $111 million to help local governments provide important services.

Despite its essential role in the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of residents, public transit in Michigan has not seen a structural funding increase since 1987.

Proposal 1 also would provide an additional $20 million per year for the Recreation Improvement Fund, which supports work by the Department of Natural Resources on recreational trails and helps to maintain and improve the harbors, marinas and public boat launches that pump $3.9 billion a year into Michigan’s economy and support more than 50,000 jobs.

Michigan’s 78 public transit agencies provided more than 95 million trips in 2013—more than 260,000 rides every day to work, the doctor’s office and other destinations. While a good portion of that ridership is in urban centers, people throughout the state depend on public transportation.

The Huron Transit Corporation in the Thumb, for instance, served 330,000 passengers in 2013, including more than 88,000 seniors or people with disabilities for whom transit is an essential lifeline.

“Voting yes on Proposal 1 will help ensure that all Michiganders have safe, affordable and dependable transportation options, whether they own a car or not,” said Liz Treutel, MEC transportation policy associate. “A yes vote means more access to economic opportunity for people all over our state, and brighter prospects for our economy overall. Study after study shows we need to invest in better transit or Michigan won’t stand a chance in the competition for young talent.”

Two-thirds of today’s young workers list good public transit among their top three criteria in deciding where to live, and more than half would consider moving to a different city if it had better transportation options.

Every dollar invested in public transit creates $4 in economic return, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Michigan enjoys $1.3 billion in economic benefits from transit.

Public transportation also provides important environmental benefits, including significant reductions in air pollution and heat-trapping carbon emissions from vehicles.

Established in 1980, MEC is a Lansing-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit coalition of more than 70 Michigan environmental, health and faith groups dedicated to achieving positive change through the political process.
Andy McGlashen: 517-420-1908
RELATED TOPICS: transportation policy
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