Thursday, May 24, 2007

How To Re-Populate Detroit: Supporting A Need for Regional Transportation by Akindele Akinyemi

As we push for a more regionalized system in Detroit I am glad to see that the Detroit City Council came to their temporary senses recently and voted 5-4 to allow Wayne County Sheriffs to patrol DDOT buses.

Again, we need a City Council that reflects the needs of the people. Not just the grassroots people but tax payers. It is time we got rid of grassroots council people who stand in our way for regionaliziation. Regionalizing bus service is necessary if Detroit wants to come back from the pitts of hell.

Why do we need to regionalize the buses?

Road congestion has dramatically increased in the last 15 years and is expected to get worse in the Metro Detroit area. Besides making life miserable for millions of commuters, road congestion severely reduces the economic attractiveness of a place. As a result, metros where people can easily get around have an advantage over those that do not.

In spite of the pressing nature of this problem, little has been done to solve it. Between 1987 and 1998, while vehicle miles traveled on freeways or principal arteries in urban areas increased by 42 percent, lane miles increased only 16 percent (with almost all coming from reclassifying rural areas as urban). No wonder congestion has worsened.

There are many reasons why policy makers have failed to solve the Metro Detroit mobility crisis, but high among them is the fact that environmentalists and other anti-growth interests have succeeded in convincing many decision makers that "sprawl" is principally responsible for traffic congestion, that "new roads just make things worse," that road pricing schemes are unfair, and that only demand reduction strategies (e.g., transit, carpooling, urban growth boundaries) can improve mobility. In fact, empirical evidence demonstrates that these claims are untrue or grossly exaggerated.

As a result, if metropolitan Detroit is serious about returning mobility to their residents, they will need to:

Build new roads and widen existing ones (especially in already built-up areas).

Encourage transit-oriented development and infill development.

Invest in transit and support rational metropolitan-wide planning.

Impose impact fees on new developments equal to public sector costs.

Build intelligent information technology-based transportation systems.

Use computers to coordinate timing of traffic lights.

Institute road pricing and even road privatization.

Collaborate in regional transportation authorities

Regionalizing police to protect bus drivers and other transit workers.

We cannot allow conspiracy theorists, A-Teams and other grassroots paranoia in our community to block the seeds of progress to help bring back Detroit. None of those grassroots people understand regionalization and keeping people in the dark on this issue will lead to the demise of our city.

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