There’s a new movie coming out, and it’s starring Gov. Rick Snyder. And really, though he is the billed star, the real sight to see is the high-speed bus flying from the flaming wreck that is Detroit, Michigan.
Citing the fiscal situation in Detroit, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood makes the obvious even more obvious. That a project for light rail, even backed by all of the greatest private interests a city could hope for…Is moot.
The inability of a city to pay for its own People Mover…must also have factored into this continuing public display of fiscal embarrassment. That you can’t even pay for your own groundbreaking light rail project isn’t enough…as Detroit City Council just voted down a 30% budget cut to their already bloated budget.
There’s also a great scene where Gov. Snyder actually drives an Emergency Manager to the City Council in the bus.
But all the dreaming is now over. A light rail corridor wasn’t really the focus, it was the inability of Detroit to pay for the new toy. And since Detroit is broke, to the point where thousands of workers will be on the street in less than 3 months, why support a dying city that looks to have its own government taken over by an EFM?
After all, the new plan, the one now funded and green-lit by the Department of Transportation, is a spread of funding across a region, not a city. It incorporates the same social principles required to build a future city, but by leaving the other one behind. It’s not surprising that the justification is a high-speed bus that would move along “dedicated routes” (Hello MDOT, your blank check is ready).
And Dennis Hopper was the only man in history to make a transit bus move faster than 50 mph…(at least when in service).
Light Rail has become Light Bail. The City of Detroit can’t support anything except defending cuts to their own budget. They know the EFM is coming soon, so why cut budgets now? Political points are being scored already, so make stacks while you can, and ignore the tough sacrifice required to inspire a city. For Gary Brown and JoAnn Watson, props for walking the walk.
Opponents of light rail now get what they want, trading one pipe dream for another. At the least, a light rail system is concrete. A regional transportation authority…less so.
And it’s not a bad idea, per se, that regional transportation authorities are vital for our future. But it’s the wrong way of thinking to declare “high-speed” buses are any more of a priority than a long-range vision of light rail in conjunction with regional transportation, while also recreating a destroyed section of Woodward and rebuilding the city from within.
And for all honesty, our track record for track is ridiculous, considering all that money President Gerald Ford gave us…we built a People Mover. And with all that LaHood money, we’ll have lots of buses in areas where people already have cars. But hey, it’s not about reason, it’s about votes.
The latest announcement mirrors the clamor for federal money for the suburbs, the desperation that bedroom communities face to fund their city amenities, and improve their own doubts of future development (God Forbid the local governments do this on their own).
In fact, some in the City of Troy recently spoke up, and left us with this odd idea that building a transit center would increase crime, and “debt money” (lovingly coined by our own Mayor Daniels) will not be accepted for any reason…And I can’t wait to see the 180-degree turn from them, justifying the same federal carousel with “state money” or “regional cooperation” as their reasons for taking the exact same “debt money” later.
Imagine a high-speed bus system in Troy. Where would we go?
In the end, we’re left with less than we started with. Before the announcement, before the chopping of the Woodward Light Rail, we had a sense of purpose. Businesses could look to Woodward if a light-rail project were started. Communities could scrape together cash to improve their storefronts, and we’d actually start cleaning up our favorite street when I-75 is backed up.
For today and tomorrow, we can look forward to a lot less. See, I’m not excited to see a high-speed bus movie. Suburb buses are school buses. And unless these mythical buses also include their own quantum transportation device, I don’t see “high-speed” on M-59 even with HOV lanes, with the state of our crosstown traffic as-is.
Blame Detroit for failing their duty for fiscal responsibility, and the Hollywood dream state they had for light rail with no money to operate it…But don’t give credit for the other Hollywood movie opening up north either. It’s all the same money, and to be honest, better use of it is in Detroit, where we can find value and growth for both social and economic purpose. Mako out.