Macomb County Transit Advocate Reacts to Being Left Out of Three-County Plan

A lifelong Macomb County resident who works in the auto industry, Dave Gifford seems like an unlikely advocate for expanding transit.

After two failed attempts to bolster public transit in Metro Detroit, leaders in Oakland, Wayne, and Washtenaw counties are leaving tax-averse Macomb at the curb.

“Just the thought of increasing taxes turns people off.” – Macomb County-based transit advocate Dave Gifford.

Following the death of longtime Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson — a staunch opponent of efforts to fund a Regional Transit Authority connecting Southeast Michigan with new services — Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel now finds himself the odd man out in the region. Under the leadership of new County Executive Dave Coulter, Oakland has taken a 180 degree turn on transit, leading a new effort to create a three-county solution without Macomb in the mix.

RELATED: Mark Hackel, Odd Man Out on Regional Transit, Touts Macomb County’s Successes

In December on Detroit Today, Hackel said no one in Macomb is interested in paying more taxes to expand transit services across counties.

Stephen Henderson speaks with one Macomb County resident who very much disagrees with that statement.

Click on the audio player above to hear Stephen Henderson speak with Macomb County transit advocate Dave Gifford.


Dave Gifford is a Macomb County-based transit advocate, the founder of Transit Guide: Detroit and a board member of Transit Riders United. He also works in the automotive industry, which he says puts him squarely in places that have historically opposed efforts to fund more transit services. 

“I think we forget our history riding transit to get to factories during World War II. It’s been part of our lives for 150 years,” says Gifford.

He acknowledges and says he understands the aversion to tax increases in Macomb County. He says its not easy to communicate to his neighbors and coworkers why he thinks its so important to expand transit here.

“Just the thought of increasing taxes turns people off,” he says.

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