Students from all over southeastern Michigan are invited to Wayne State on Nov. 21 to begin a conversation about the future of regional mass transportation.
Wayne State’s Students for Transit Coalition and Future Urban Leaders of Detroit (FULD) are presenting the University Students in Motion Regional Transit Conference in conjunction with the Harriet Tubman Center, in an effort to network, collaborate and vouch for efficient transportation.
Drew Lucco, Master of Urban Studies student and FULD member, says students from all academic disciplines are encouraged to attend and learn about the Regional Transit Authority’s next big move in creating a functional and connective system.
“In 2016, there’s going to be a measure on the ballot that would approve funding for the RTA to create a regional rapid transit system,” Lucco said.
“That [system] would affect Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, and Washtenaw - all the counties around here. We’re trying to educate people about the issues surrounding that and mobilize people to vote for it.”
Though the RTA’s comprehensive plan isn’t available to the public yet, Lucco says the potential for effective transit is an issue that concerns students now and appeals to the interests of many.
“If you’re a business major, rapid transit is something that can really be a boom for local businesses. If you’re a sociology major, rapid transit puts people together in public spaces, it gets people to and from jobs. If you’re in the health sciences, it’s getting people out of their cars and encourages them to live healthy lifestyles.”
The conference will include an interactive panel and presentations from Director of Detroit city planning Maurice Cox, Transit Deployment Specialist Neil Greenberg, RTA representative Ben Stupka and Downtown Grand Rapids Mobility Manager Bill Kirk.
President of WSU Students for Transit Coalition Alice Ogadinma said there will be ample opportunity to ask questions and learn about the current state of transit in the Detroit. She said she hopes that students understand how essential regional integration is not only to Wayne State, but to the entire city of Detroit.
“Regional transit will expand our borders and create a new sense of unity within our region. It is also needed to empower the thousands of people whose needs are not being met within our current system,” Ogadinma said.
FULD Chair Savannah Robbins said representation from both supporters and skeptics in the conversation is crucial because an eventual vote will need support from all of the affected counties.
“To the people of Detroit, the need for transit is an obvious need, but to people in the suburbs… It’s harder maybe to convince them that they need transit, but that’s where there’s more of a severe lack of it as well. It is a problem because if your car breaks down…wouldn’t it be a lot better if you could just take a bus?"
The conference will take place from 1-4 p.m. on Nov. 21 in the Student Center Ballroom. Students can register in person at the event.
Contact Rosemary O’Meara: firstname.lastname@example.org or 313-510-6456. Follow her on Twitter: @rosie_omeara.