LANSING, Mich. – A group comprised of representatives from the state’s largest public transportation organization today urged lawmakers to invest in Michigan’s transportation system or risk losing billions of dollars.
The Michigan Public Transit Association (MPTA) hosted a media roundtable during its annual Mid-Year Legislative Conference and encouraged legislators to make funding public transportation in Michigan a legislative priority.
“In the last six years alone, public transportation use has risen 22 percent – faster than vehicle miles traveled on our roadways and airline passenger miles logged over the same period,” said Clark Harder, executive director of the MPTA.
“More and more Michigan residents are turning to public transportation. It’s clear that a long-term funding solution will have to recognize that as public transportation continues to grow, fewer dollars are captured from gas taxes, meaning less money is available to support those public transportation systems. Michigan needs a funding mechanism that reflects the transportation choices of its citizens,” said Jennifer Kalczuk, external relations manager for The Rapid.
Public transportation in Michigan is a $560 million industry that directly employs more than 5,800 people. Michigan's investment in public transportation brings back about $3.5 billion annually in economic benefits to the state.
“Not only is public transit better for the environment, but the broader benefits must also be recognized,” said Sylvester Payne, president, MPTA and general manager for Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services (STARS). “By supporting economic vitality, creating jobs, supporting successful employment, promoting independence and mobility, reducing traffic congestion, and improving air quality, public transportation plays a significant role in the quality of life that makes Michigan an attractive choice for residents and businesses.”
The Michigan Legislature is exploring bills that would increase transportation funding over the next five years. The plan is expected to yield an additional $1.8 billion in transportation revenue per year – $1.7 billion short of the Transportation Funding Task Force (TF2) recommendations, but a significant step in the right direction to fix Michigan’s transportation funding crisis.
“Transit is critical to economic development in the Detroit region and across our state,” said Steve Brown, general manager for Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART). “Public transit is an economic catalyst – 77 percent of New Economy companies rate public transportation as ‘very important’ when deciding where to locate. We must invest in our transit systems!”
“Legislators must act now to solve our transportation funding crisis,” Harder said. “Michigan cannot afford to leave federal money on the table. We must invest in our transportation system now!”
The Michigan Public Transit Association is a nonprofit statewide association. Members range from the largest urban public transit system providers in Michigan to a majority of the smaller rural demand-response systems. Members represent communities from across the state. For more information please visit www.mptaonline.org.
Contact: Clark Harder, Executive Director, MPTA; (517) 324-0858 – office; firstname.lastname@example.org