Story of 'walking man' James Robertson reflects Detroit's transit woes

By: Fox 2 General Manager Mike Renda

The story of the metro Detroit resident walking 20 miles to work every day brought an outpouring of generosity netting James Robertson a new car and $350,000 as a reward for his dedication. 

But that fact that this man had to walk for hours to get from Detroit to the suburbs underscores the woeful state of mass transit in our region. We simply do not have an interconnected system to efficiently travel back and forth from the suburbs to the city.

How did we get to this point? Dependence on the automobile, race and class issues, and a lack of sustained financial support have doomed our mass transit efforts over the last 50 years.

The SMART bus system operated by Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties provides a bare minimum of inter-county transit but it sadly does not serve 50 suburbs in Oakland and Wayne counties that opted OUT of the SMART system.

SMART just has just too many gaps in service and support to become the bedrock of a future regional system.

So what's the solution? Many believe the answer lies with the newly created Regional Transit Authority.

This umbrella organization covering Detroit and surrounding counties has the power to put regional transit funding measures on the ballot.

The Authority's mandate is to present an overall regional plan and provide a final solution to money problems that have plagued our public transit for five decades.

I would call on Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit (SHOT) and county leaders (Full Screen shot)  Warren Evans (Wayne) - Mark Hackel (Macomb)- L. Brooks Patterson (Oakland) and Verna McDaniel (Washtenaw) to become fully engaged in the Authority's planning and to get behind a final fix for regional mass transit.

I will follow the Authority's progress in the coming months and will report on its efforts to bring our mass transit services into the 21st century. I would like to hear your thoughts please go to our Facebook page, FOX 2 Detroit, and weigh in.

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