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Cookies for Amtrak? Bake sales to raise money for crippled public transit scheduled July 1 in Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo

Jun 30, 2009
Public transit advocates will host bake sales in four Michigan cities Wednesday, July 1 to raise cash in the wake of proposed state budget cuts that would derail Amtrak train routes and cripple bus services vital to connecting Michigan workers with employers.

“With more Michiganders losing jobs, income, and the means to afford their own vehicles, public transportation is more important now than ever,” said Megan Owens of Transportation Riders United, Detroit.. “With more people turning to public transit to help make ends meet, it is important that the governor and the legislature find a way to maintain these vital services.”

On June 11, the Michigan Senate voted to cut dwindling public transportation funds by $11.5 million. The House of Representatives restored some of this money but this amount still falls $45 million short of needed public transportation funds – especially for Amtrak.

This would be devastating to Amtrak. It would result in the loss of either the rail services along the Port Huron to Chicago route or the Grand Rapids to Chicago route. It also continues the “death by a million cuts” effect on bus transit.

Money from the bake sales will be turned over to the State Treasury to help plug the gap in public transportation funds created by the governor and state legislature.

“We understand that there aren’t enough cupcakes in Michigan to meet the funding needs of public transit. But we hope these sales will highlight the gravity of a funding gap that threatens to wipe out important services,” said Tim Fischer of Michigan Environmental Council.

Transit supporters will send tallies of the bake sale funds raised to state legislators and Gov. Granholm.

“We’ll let them know what’s been raised, and how much is left for them to cover,” said Clark Harder of the Michigan Public Transit Association. “We’ll call it our Cookies for Transit Stimulus Package.”

Even under the Governor’s recommendation, public transit agencies in both urban and rural communities will see their percentage of state support drop. This continues a steady trend of decreasing state support for transit that began in 1999. The cuts would also potentially forfeit up to $100 million in matching federal transit allocations to Michigan starting in 2010.

Under state law, urban transit agencies are eligible for up to 50% of their operating costs to be borne by the state, while rural agencies may be reimbursed for up to 60% of their operations by the state. For 2010 the Governor’s recommended funding levels would be roughly 29% urban and 35% rural. The Senate recommendation would reduce those levels of state support by approximately another one percent.

Bake sale locations and times:
  • DETROIT: In front of the Detroit City-County building on Woodward Ave. from 12:00 – 1:30 pm. Contact Megan Owens, Executive Director of Transportation Riders United at 248-259-2439; Lee Gaddies, MOSES transportation policy committee at 313-585-8440.
  • LANSING: In front of Lansing City Hall from Noon to 1 p.m. Contact: Tim Fischer, Michigan Environmental Council at 734-255-9206; Todd Tennis, Ingham County Commissioner at 517-202-2303.
  • GRAND RAPIDS: In front of Rapid Central Station at 250 Grandville SW from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. Contact Frank Lynn at (616) 949-1100 x238; Casey Dutmar at (616) 534-0581.
  • KALAMAZOO: At the Kalamazoo Transit Center from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm. Contact Laurie Terlesky, Michigan Citizen Action at 269-349-9170.
Tim Fischer, Michigan Environmental Council: 734-255-9206
Clark Harder, Michigan Public Transit Association: 517-324-0858
Megan Owens, Transportation Riders United: 248-259-2439
RELATED TOPICS: transportation policy
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