Jan 31, 2024 - News

Lawmakers say transit focus is greater than ever

Policymakers on stage listen as woman discusses transit while gesturing.

Megan Owens, Transportation Riders United director (far right), moderates a panel at the State of Transit event last night. From left: Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Reps. Donavan McKinney (D-Detroit) and Jason Morgan (D-Ann Arbor), Sen. Mallory McMorrow and Chief Infrastructure Officer Zach Kolodin.

Democratic lawmakers say there's never been a greater legislative desire to improve Southeast Michigan's disconnected public transit systems.

Driving the news: Rep. Jason Morgan (D-Ann Arbor) and Rep. Mike McFall (D-Hazel Park) created the Legislature's first transit caucus last November.

  • The body hasn't held a formal meeting yet but Morgan tells Axios 36 legislators have signed on to join the transit caucus, including one Republican, Rep. Dave Prestin.

What they're saying: "Transit has been something we've been trying to work on for decades," Rep. Jason Hoskins (D-Southfield) told Axios after the governor's State of the State address last week. "I've never seen so much focus on it."

  • "There's a high amount of enthusiasm," freshman Dearborn Rep. Alabas Farhat tells Axios. "How can we make macro investments in transit as a state? I think it's a priority for the majority — we've talked about it, and now that we have the ability to influence change, we're finally doing something."

Catch up quick: Billionaire Dan Gilbert has talked about the region's need for improved transit as a way to bring new residents, while Mayor Mike Duggan's recent comments exploring the possibilities of a People Mover expansion surprised the transit community.

Meanwhile, Transportation Riders United hosted its annual State of Transit event Tuesday night, where Morgan and others floated ideas about how to fund transit projects at the state level.


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