Oakland County Treasurer Andy Meisner is pushing regional mass transit while he makes the rounds at the Mackinac Policy Conference this week. Meisner says southeast Michigan is losing young talent because of the lack of a regional transit system that embraces buses, light rail and even bicycles.
“I think that investment in a regional transit system is going to be the only way for us to retain millennials,” Meisner says. “We are not going to succeed as a county, as a region until we get a strong regional transit system in place that takes into account some of the preferences of our citizens.”
So what should be done?
Meisner says he’s looking forward to the planned 2016 millage vote to provide funding for the Regional Transit Authority, though he’d like to see a system that embraces more than the bus rapid transit system that’s being planned now.
“I think that buses play an important role in a multi-modal strategy. I’d like to see us be a little more aggressive and include light rail,” he says.
Increasing mass transit options would reduce traffic on the roads, Meisner says, which, in turn, would decrease the need for funding for repairs.
“By providing multiple modes of transportation, we can reduce wear and tear on the roads and get people taking the train,” Meisner says.
Plus there’s the financial “bottom line,” for Oakland County, the treasurer says.
“I see transit as a key economic development driver,” Meisner says. “I see an investment in light rail and in transit as being one of the fastest ways to get us back, and then grow beyond that.”