The House proposal would transfer $36 million from public transit to fund roads. While fixing our roads is a mutual priority, doing so on the backs of our region’s seniors, disabled, youth, and our most vulnerable residents is not a viable solution. (Photo by HB Meeks/Tell Us Detroit)





  House Transportation Committee Budget Prioritizes Potholes over People

Joint Statement

LANSING, MI - The FY 2020 House transportation budget proposal passed by the Transportation Subcommittee of Appropriations jeopardizes transit and mobility services state-wide, including service provided across Southeast Michigan by the TheRide (Ann Arbor), Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT), and The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transit (SMART). The House proposal would transfer $36 million from public transit to fund roads. While fixing our roads is a mutual priority, doing so on the backs of our region’s seniors, disabled, youth, and our most vulnerable residents is not a viable solution.

How would the House proposal impact transit services in metro Detroit and Ann Arbor? Bus services provided more than 40 million rides in 2018 across Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne Counties.
• Under the House proposal, state operating funding would be reduced to the lowest amount since 2005. Southeast Michigan would lose millions of dollars in state funding. State funds are used to match local investment and are a critical part of annual operating budgets.
• The House proposal also reduces capital investment. State funding helps keep vehicle fleets and facilities in working order. Cuts to the transit capital budget puts federal funding at risk if there are insufficient funds available to “match” the federal grants. MDOT reports that, under this proposal, they will be approximately $3 million short of meeting all available federal funding for urban bus systems. Further, transit agencies would not be able to access federal discretionary funds if matching funds are unavailable.
• The House proposal discourages innovation by cutting new initiatives funding by 77%, funds that can be used to implement new mobility projects across the region.
• The House proposal also cuts “specialized services” by 70%, resulting in more than 348,000 rides lost for seniors and individuals with disabilities.
The cuts affect riders state-wide; in urban, suburban and rural communities. Likely impacts in our region include:
• TheRide (Ann Arbor): The proposed operating cuts would eliminate service for about 300,000 annual trips which Michiganders rely on to get to jobs, doctors, schools, and grocery stores. This could increase traffic and wear on our roads while leaving the most vulnerable stranded without access to opportunity. Loss of capital funding would stall investment leading to shrinking, unreliable bus fleets – mirroring the impact of under-investing in roads.

• DDOT: The proposed cuts to capital funding could jeopardize the matching funds required to access federal grants DDOT uses to maintain its assets in a state of good repair. In 2018, DDOT was able to leverage $2,384,000 in state funding to access $9,536,038 in discretionary federal funding to support a necessary facility rehabilitation project. If DDOT loses access to federal formula or discretionary funding, it would mean deferred maintenance, and reductions in service.

• SMART: The proposed package of cuts would reduce SMART’s operating budget and grant match revenues by close to $7 Million annually. This reduction in funding would require cuts in services for fixed route, connector (primarily senior and disabled) service, and specialized local services. The loss of state revenue affects communities that opt into the full services of the SMART system as well as those communities that opt out of SMART; the Specialized Services program alone funds over 400,000 rides annually through 39 individual programs all across Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Monroe Counties. In addition, fewer state matching dollars would jeopardize $4.5 million in Federal grant funds that are essential to maintaining safe and reliable equipment and facilities.

Recently, national and regional business leaders have acknowledged that Southeast Michigan needs to invest in public transit to make the region and the State of Michigan more competitive in a global economy. This latest House Transportation Committee budget poses a risk not only to the region’s transit dependent residents, but also to the businesses where they work and shop, and to future economic growth in our region and state.

In its current form, this proposal jeopardizes existing transit service across the state while not generating enough revenue to actually fix our roads; a lose-lose proposition for everyone. We ask that the Legislature at a minimum maintain current state funding levels for transit services across the state as it seeks to develop a balanced budget. The people of our Great State and Southeast Michigan deserve and need both good roads and good transit; not one or the other.





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