Leaders still split on RTA proposal

- There's more to Tuesday's election than just a vote for President. People living in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw Counties will be faced with another important decision: To vote yes or no, to a Regional transit millage.

“We’re going to have dedicated rail, we’re going to have dedicated bus lanes,” said Mayor John B. O’Reilly of Dearborn.

Mayor O'Reilly is in support, along with Mayor Mike Duggan of Detroit and Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

“It's too inconvenient. You have to transfer where the transfer doesn't make sense, you can't get from one system to the other in many places.” said Mayor O’Reilly. “That shouldn't be.”

Right now there are two transit systems, SMART in the suburbs and DDOT in Detroit. Supporters say unifying the two will create job and education opportunities for thousands.

The 1.2 mil proposal would cost about $120 per year for someone with a home valued at $100,000.

“We should have had a regional transit authority years ago when we had planners and urban developers,” said Rep. Peter Lucido, 36th District.

Peter Lucido represents communities in northern Macomb County, an area he says won't see much of a benefit.

“Go look at the base of where all the dollars are coming from. If they're coming from the more affluent suburbs, find out how many are going to ride the regional transit. Let me know whether or not there's going to be a benefit that way.”

Lucido has drafted a bill which would allow homeowners to opt out of the taxes, if the millage is approved.

“We've already had the buses out there and they've been empty,” said Lucido. “Go look. You have two, three passengers in the buses.”

Bus riders are split.

“It would be more convenient because I'm going to take the 37 downtown. It would be much better for that because maybe I could just take one ride all the way,” said Akmed Mukarram, who supports the millage.

“If you're going to get together on it that's fine, but charging people more money? I don't think that's going to work,” said Larry Smith Jr., who is against the millage.
Mayor O'Reilly argues the millage is needed for the younger generation, including college students, and for the sake of future social integration.
“Traditionally where they live, they're isolated from other cultures, but now getting on the conveyance, they’re put together, they get comfortable with each other, it creates just a better sense of the broader community.”

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