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Regional Transit vote fails; try again in 2 years?

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We tried

After an incredibly long election night, the reports are coming out that the Regional Transit millage was voted down by metro Detroit. Wayne and Washtenaw Counties voted for the millage, while Oakland’s vote was a little narrower and Macomb County overwhelmingly voted against it.

Voters may have another chance to vote on an RTA plan in two years.

Here is the statement released this morning by the RTA Board Chairperson Paul Hillegonds and RTA CEO Michael Ford:

“The extremely narrow defeat of the proposed millage for regional transit is a deeply disappointing setback for efforts to create a modern transit system that would position southeast Michigan to be a stronger competitor in the 21st Century both nationally and internationally.

“It leaves southeast Michigan as the only large region in the nation (and one of a few in the world) without a functioning regional rapid transit system. That means residents still will lack a convenient transit connection to jobs, communities will remain unconnected to one another, economic development will be more difficult and seniors and people with disabilities will lack the greater independence a fully functional transit system would provide.

“Still, the fact remains that we have made significant progress over the last 18 months in developing a truly regional plan that meets the needs of the people and communities of this region. And the narrow margin of defeat indicates that many of our residents recognize the value of the plan and the region’s needs for it.

We could not have made that progress without the support of a broad-based coalition of supporters ranging from the grass roots and civic communities to the region’s business community. They devoted countless hours and significant resources to creating a truly regional plan and we are deeply grateful for their efforts. They deserve the gratitude of the entire region because we simply could not have made the progress we did without them.

“When the Legislature and Governor created the Regional Transit Authority in 2012 we were given the charge of planning for and coordinating public transportation in the four-county Southeast Michigan region, including developing a plan for rapid transit. We will be sitting down with our board in the near future to determine our next steps in fulfilling that task.”

Why do you think it might have failed, Curbed readers? Earlier this year, we asked what the biggest obstacle may be in getting safe, reliable, cohesive transit in the region. The top response was convincing the region that we need it. Do you think that was the problem? Was the benefit communicated to Oakland and Macomb Counties enough? Or did the plan need to reach more people and include more components, more routes? Should it have gone bigger and offered more rail?

As always, please let us know what you think. We’ll let you know what the next steps are for the RTA.