Prepare to Vote: Transit and the Candidates for Michigan Governor [VIDEO, TRANSCRIPTS]



Is transit YOUR issue - whether you’re for or against it?  Does what candidates say about mobility, the Regional Transit Authority and autonomous cars help determine your vote in the August primary and November general elections?

WDET and our partners in the Detroit Journalism Cooperative recently interviewed most of the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor of Michigan.

Scroll down for videos and transcripts.

Other WDET Transit Conversations:

No RTA Vote in Southeast Michigan This Year [VIDEOTRANSCRIPT]
Bridge Magazine: Regional Transit Dead This Year
How Did We Get Here? A Visual Timeline of Mass Transit in Southeast Michigan
Detroit Businesses Discuss Whether The Region Can Be Competitive, Attract Talent

The DJC reporters asked about plans for transit and mobility. Here’s how the candidates answered:

Republican Candidates

Brian Calley


Brian Calley said Michigan is currently in the middle of a revolution with the emergence of autonomous and connected vehicles. “What I would love to see happen now is to insert a first in the world advancement in taking this technology that is being developed and deploy it to solve transit problems in our state. Give people a reason to be excited about it. It is something bigger than a fixed line transit system.”

Read Calley’s Full Answer

Patrick Colbeck


Patrick Colbeck does not like southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority. “When you start talking about mass transit, there are major disruptors out there that if the state goes in and puts in some major investments in infrastructure along those lines, where does that leave room for the next Uber of the world or the Lyft of the world that actually has an innovative way of maybe delivering some of these services in a way free from government entanglement?”

Read Colbeck’s Full Answer

Jim Hines


Jim Hines said he thinks having a transit system is very important but he’s not sure it’s mandatory. For him, when it comes to the issue of mass transit and mobility, roads need to be the priority.  “We’re talking about autonomous cars and electric cars. Do you want to drive a high-performance vehicle on any road in Michigan? And the answer is no, you don’t. So we’ve got to get the basics done.”

Read Hines’s Full Answer


Bill Schuette declined the Detroit Journalism Cooperative’s numerous requests to participate in this project, citing scheduling conflicts for the several days offered for taping. Click HERE to learn more about him and WDET’s coverage of his campaign. 

Democratic Candidates

Abdul El-Sayed


Abdul El-Sayed said Michigan’s ability to fund mass transportation has impacted the state’s ability to recruit and retain talent. “The biggest competition that we have right now is the competition for young talent. And young talent keeps leaving because we don’t offer the kind of lifestyle choices that young people are interested in. And those lifestyle choices often times are undergirded by the ability to move across different communities quickly. We don’t have that in Michigan. I honestly believe that mass transportation is mission critical for the future of our state and I am committed to getting it done.”

Read El-Sayed’s Full Answer

Shri Thanedar


Shri Thanedar said he’d like to see all the counties in southeast Michigan — not just Wayne and Washtenaw — step up to pay to expand bus routes and light rail. “I would ask other counties to look at this as one big family. So, Oakland and Macomb need to chip in and we’re all in it together. And we all do good or we all come down.  And so, we need to contribute.”

Read Thanedar’s Full Answer

Gretchen Whitmer


Gretchen Whitmer said she wants to see the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan funded and has been saddened by recent setbacks. “If the state got back to fixing roads, perhaps that wouldn’t be the top issue that is keeping some leaders in the region from being able to consider this as a real necessity and really look to solving this problem.”

Read Whitmer’s Full Answer

Other Issues

Find out what the 2018 Michigan gubernatorial candidates think about marijuana and education.


Image credit: Detroit Journalism Cooperative

This post is a part of Detroit Journalism Cooperative.

The DJC is a partnership of six media outlets focused on telling critical stories of Detroit and creating engagement opportunities on-air, online and in the community. View the partners work at

Support for this project comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Renaissance Journalism’s Michigan Reporting Initiative and the Ford Foundation.



This post is a part of 2018 Elections in Michigan.

On November 6, Michigan voters will decide who will be the state's new governor, attorney general and secretary of state. Some state House and Senate seats are up for grabs, and numerous initiatives are expected on ballots.

WDET is committed to providing honest, fair, inclusive coverage of Michigan's 2018 elections. Join us now and all the way to the voting booth to be an informed voter.


About the Author

Sandra Svoboda

Special Assignments Manager

Recovering Bankruptcy Reporter/Blogger looking forward to chronicling regional revitalization on-air, digitally and through community engagement.   Follow @WDETSandra

Laura Herberg

Community Reporter

Through sound-rich storytelling, Herberg covers stories about the people inhabiting the metro Detroit region and the issues that affect them. Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter 2018 and 2017.

Follow @HerbergRadio

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