Great editorial from Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano for One D on transit. Ficano makes the case that rail transit is a key ingredient metro Detroit needs to retain and attract young professionals. Based in part on a recent charrette of University of Michigan students who were asked “if you could start from scratch, what would you do to improve this region and make it more attractive?” The priority was transit.
This is consistent with my experience with young professionals and college students across the state. I have never been in a discussion about their priority list for Michigan that does not have transit at or near the top. This is a generation where many would like to live without a car. So for many their decision on where to live and work after college includes having great transit. It’s a common feature of many of the cities that are young talent magnets.
Ficano understands this. Transit – particularly rail – is about more than just moving people. It is a economic growth priority. Because where those University of Michigan charrette participants choose to live and work after college will have a lot to do in determining which region are prosperous in the future and which aren’t.
Unfortunately his priority for transit seems not to shared by the Oakland County Executive and Chairman of the Macomb County Commission both of whom wrote editorials for One D on transit as well. (You can find them here.) It’s clear that the historic concerns that haven’t prevented metro Detroit from getting a high quality rail system still exist. Do we really need rail? Can we afford it? Etc.
Ficano is right. As region after region across the country understands, transit is a key ingredient in growing the economy. We cannot afford not to have transit. It’s that important!