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Update: Senate Committee’s Bills Include TransitPrint

Thriving Communities | May 23, 2014 | By James Bruckbauer

Groups all over Michigan are urging lawmakers to include transit in any new transportation funding proposal. (Photo: Bobby Alcott Photography)

Earlier this week I wrote about a Michigan House of Representatives proposal that would leave transit out of a package of bills intended to raise money to improve our transportation system.

Groups all over the state urged lawmakers to make sure any new dollars go through the current transportation formula, Act 51, so all agencies get their share of the money—and so bus riders don’t get left at the curb.

The House passed the package of bills last week, so now it’s up to the Senate to amend and vote on the proposal. So far, there’s good news for transit.

On Wednesday, the Senate’s Infrastructure Modernization Committee passed five bills, three of the House bills and two from the Senate, that would flow new transportation money based on the normal transportation funding formula, Act 51. The bills would ensure that all transportation agencies get a share of the funding.

As early as next week, the full Senate could consider the bills.

The Senate’s move to include transit is welcome news among transportation reform advocates in Michigan. It shows that state leaders understand there’s a fundamental shift taking place in how people are getting around.

For example, transit ridership is at its highest level since 1956 while per-person driving in Michigan has dropped almost 7 percent since 2005.  About one-third of Michiganders are too young, too old, or are just physically or financially unable to drive. Transit has become a crucial part of economic development strategies in Michigan’s talent-driven areas. And every year Michigan voters overwhelmingly show their support for transit investments.

Check out the Transportation for Michigan blog and Twitter feed for updates on the transportation funding bills.

James Bruckbauer is the Michigan Land Use Institute’s transportation policy specialist. Follow him on Twitter at @jimbruckb. Reach him at james@mlui.org.