Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter says he’s as committed as ever to working with regional leaders to propose, adopt and fund a regional transit plan that works for residents across Southeast Michigan. That’s despite his decision not to broach the subject during his State of the County address Wednesday night.
“I think COVID has revealed an increased need for accessible transportation for folks to get to the doctors or the jobs. I think it’s only highlighted the need for it.” —Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter
Coulter says the pandemic has only further highlighted the need to make sure people have accessible and affordable transit options.
Listen: Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter talks about Oakland County’s accomplishments during the pandemic and challenges ahead.
“I think COVID has revealed an increased need for accessible transportation for folks to get to the doctors or the jobs. I think it’s only highlighted the need for it,” says Coulter. “I wanted to keep the speech short last night,” he continues with a chuckle, ”and I said nobody’s going to watch an online speech for 45 minutes. So, not everything made it in. But I would tell you and your listeners that I’m just as committed to moving a transit plan forward and to being part of that.”
But Coulter, now in his first full term as county executive, says regional leaders and transit advocates must be careful to make sure the next major transit proposal is one that has a chance of passing after two previous failed attempts, including one that voters narrowly rejected.
“We’ve taken so many bites at the apple that I’m afraid [if] we put out a clunker of a plan next time it may be our last opportunity,” he says. ”So we’re going to really work on this, we’re gonna really get the details right.”
“It’s not going to do us any good to get to 70% [vaccination rate] if if the rest of the region isn’t. So we’ve got to do this together.” —Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter
Coulter also talks about Oakland County’s vaccination rate, which is among the highest in the state. He says as of Thursday morning 64% of Oakland County residents 16 and older have received at least one dose. But he says that won’t mean much if rates are lower in surrounding areas.
“If ever there was a regional challenge, this is it,” says Coulter. ”The virus doesn’t care about geographic boundaries. And so we’ve worked closely with the City of Detroit health department, Wayne, Macomb County, sharing best practices, talking regularly. And I’m not sure what other assistance we could give, but to the extent that they needed it, we have to be in this together as a region. And it’s not going to do us any good to get to 70% if if the rest of the region isn’t. So we’ve got to do this together.”