Editorial: A modern public transit system is within reach

From the Detroit Free Press

With the help of the Federal Transit Administration, Detroit’s $500-million Woodward Light Rail Project is on track, including agreement on a final environmental impact statement setting route and station locations. Moreover, the project’s momentum has sparked suburban interest in rail and regional transit service.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing and Norman White, CEO of the Woodward Light Rail Project, deserve great credit for taking on a project that could lead, at last, to a first-class regional transit system.

That said, Detroit must stop the foot-dragging on creating a regional transit authority that would operate not only light rail but also an improved city and suburban bus system. If not, the city risks undermining already faltering bus service — and even derailing plans to run light rail along Woodward, from 8 Mile to downtown.

The project would take roughly $10 million a year to operate. State transit funds and — on a short-term basis — federal congestion mitigation money could cover some operating costs. Even so, without a regional authority and dedicated funding, the project is simply not viable.

Read more: http://www.freep.com/article/20110814/OPINION01/108140434/Editorial-modern-public-transit-system-within-reach?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Opinion