Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter is reiterating his support for more robust public transit. That comes a day after his State of the County speech, which only included a brief mention of the issue.
“The reason transit didn’t get more attention last night is simple, we don’t have — yet, although we’re working on it — a plan that’s been agreed upon and signed off by the counties and the cities in the region.” — Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter
Public transit advocates have expressed disappointment that the issue was not a bigger focus of Coulter’s speech. That’s in the wake of Auburn Hills City Council’s recent vote to opt out of the SMART system.
Listen: Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter talks transit and his State of the County speech.
Coulter says he’s “all in” on mass transit.
“I started my career in 2003 by talking about the need for greater mass transit in Metro Detroit,” Coulter tells Stephen Henderson on WDET’s Detroit Today. “We’re still, all these years later, one of the only if not the only major metropolitan area that doesn’t have a mass transit system. And that has to change.”
On Auburn Hills’ vote to opt out of SMART, Coulter says he’s “not sure that they have the ability to opt out in the way that they did,” adding that the vote was “disappointing to me.”
He says “there’s been some discussion at our [Board of Commissioners] level that we should go [to] not allowing our communities to opt out of SMART bus service … I have said over the years that the Swiss cheese approach that we take to bus service does not serve our residents well.”
Coulter says he supports the proposal for an all-opt-in county bus service, although he notes that it will be up to the Board of Commissioners to put the question on the ballot and for voters to approve it.
“It’s not a dead issue, I can assure you.” —Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter
On whether local leaders are still seriously talking about a comprehensive, regional transit plan, Coulter says, “it’s not a dead issue, I can assure you.”
“The reason transit didn’t get more attention last night is simple, we don’t have — yet, although we’re working on it — a plan that’s been agreed upon and signed off by the counties and the cities in the region, in part because COVID really slowed us down.”
Coulter also discusses the county’s new fiv-year strategic plan and efforts to promote more affordable housing in Oakland County.