Michiganders: Give Us More Diverse Transportation

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transportation funding

ANN ARBOR — Michiganders want state leaders to diversify the state’s transportation system with more options, from high-speed trains to more walkable communities.

That was the consensus of an analysis of 18 community forums held across the state throughout 2012, by Transportation for Michigan (Trans4M).

Forum participants send a clear message that Michigan wants a complete transportation system with a diverse network of options.

In October 2011, Gov. Rick Snyder announced his intention to reverse years of lacking investment in Michigan’s transportation system. Trans4M went on a mission to find out what kind of transportation system Michigan wanted. A series of community forums were hosted by local groups all over the state and attended by hundreds of people, from Detroit to St. Joseph and all the way up to Houghton.

At each forum, participants took part in three exercises:
• In the mapping exercise, participants indicated locations on a state map where they live, regularly commute to, and would like to have access to.
• Then in a visioning exercise, participants examined the vision statements of a variety of transportation entities and developed their own vision statements.
• Finally, in a budgeting exercise, participants considered the current budget distribution at the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and decided how much of the pie they would allocate to each part of the transportation system.

When the budgeting exercises from all forums are averaged, the difference between Michigan’s current transportation budget distribution and what residents want is clear: diversity of options.

Ann Arbor participants expressed this demand for transportation option diversity by allotting 18.8 percent of their state transportation budget for new categories, transportation methods not yet supported by the state. The general consensus from Ann Arbor participants was that more funding is needed for public transit and non-motorized transportation modes, like biking and walking.

As illustrated in the two pie charts, the distribution average from all the forums is much more evenly spread over multiple transportation modes and budget areas, than is the actual state transportation budget. Currently, MDOT invests 92 percnet of its budget into roads and bridges, leaving only 8 percent to be spread over bus, train, bicycle, and pedestrian transportation. In the participants’ budget allotment, 51 percent is dedicated to roads and bridges, with the remaining 49 percent spread over the other four methods of transportation.

While the transportation budget distribution put together by participants does not allocate by dollar amount, it does demonstrate a clear demand for increased investment in bus, train, bicycle, and pedestrian infrastructure.

Taking this demand for a multi-modal transportation system in stride, Trans4M has two ways residents can get involved with the continued state transportation policy discussion through the Move Michigan campaign:
• Coming up on April 16, we will be holding our 2013 Trans4M Legislative Day where we will be meeting with our state representatives and senators to inform them of the demand in our state for transportation funding reform. To participate in the 2013 Legislative Day please register online by Friday, April 5.
• Additionally, Move Michigan is continuing the transportation policy discussion daily through Trans4M Facebook and Twitter pages. Join the daily discussion online!

Trans4M is a diverse statewide coalition of groups working together to make Michigan communities more livable, create equitable opportunities for all people, and build a more robust economy through transportation policy reform.

Coalition partners include nonprofits, businesses, policy makers, environmental groups, planners, academic institutions and others.

The Clean Energy Coalition is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting clean energy technologies as a way to create healthier, energy-independent communities. Since 2005, Clean Energy Coalition has implemented, managed, and evaluated cost-effective, market transformation projects and programs in the building and transportation sectors valued at more than $60 million.

More at cec-mi.org.

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