Opinion: Why Vote For A Regional Transit Authority?

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By Kimberly Siegel

Everyone knows Detroit is the “Motor City” that made automotive transportation a staple method of getting around town. Unfortunately, not everyone in the Metro Detroit area has access to a vehicle. Those without a car have slim to no options for getting from point A to point B.

A few years ago, one of my friends who lives in Midtown had to commute to Bloomfield Hills for work without a car. Aside from working her normal eight-hour shift, she would have to spend two hours every day taking the DDOT bus in the morning from Woodward to its final destination at Eight Mile, transfer onto the Smart Bus, and then walk a mile from the bus stop to get to her office and would do the same commute in reverse on the way home.

Her story is common for those who must rely on the current system of inefficient mass transportation to get to work, to buy groceries and other basic trips that those with vehicles take for granted.

Aside from providing transportation to those without vehicles, voting to pass the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) master plan would require less road construction and would reduce Metro Detroit’s carbon footprint.

ddotPeople in Metro Detroit need access to reliable, efficient and affordable public transportation to live. As shared in the story above, not everyone is at the point in their life where they can afford a car. The cost of owning a car is astronomical when you consider the cost of purchasing a vehicle, insurance, gas money, AAA, etc.

The system developed by the RTA would allow people to complete basic necessary tasks such as getting to work to make a living or the grocery store for produce in a short period of time without the excruciatingly long time spent using the current inefficient bus system.

Additionally, not everyone who owns a vehicle feels safe driving on the roads. Many people do not feel comfortable driving during the night, during rush hour or after a glass of Manischewitz. Having an efficient mass transportation system in Metro Detroit would create alternative options for people to travel without stepping into their car.

The RTA master plan would also decrease road construction. It is no news flash that Michigan roads are in poor shape, ranking among the worst in the country. We spend an astronomical amount of money repairing vehicles damaged by our crumbling infrastructure.

Our roads require frequent repairs to keep up with the heavy number of cars traveling on them. If people in Metro Detroit had efficient methods of mass transportation, fewer cars would be traveling on the roads, which would mean less need for repairs.

Additionally, taxpayer money that is currently spread thin across many different projects could be concentrated on specific initiatives and could even increase the money spent on better materials for the roads and green infrastructure to manage storm water. This spending would benefit the public in many ways, including increasing the quality of our roads, reducing the frequency of patch jobs and construction, and less traffic due to construction.

Better For The Earth

Especially with the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the creation of the Earth 5777 years ago, this time of year reminds us that it is important that we protect Adonai’s most vital creation: the Earth. In the story of Creation in the Book of Genesis, humans are created on the sixth day. Humankind is the last piece of the puzzle to come into the picture because we depend on the creation around us for life.

As Adam and Eve could not exist until the fundamental components for life itself were established, we, too, cannot exist without a healthy environment. In particular, we cannot thrive without clean air. Scientists have proven again and again that the increase in fossil fuel consumption has led to a rapid increase in climate change as well as a degradation of our air quality. Too much carbon dioxide and other chemicals from vehicle exhausts can cause an increased risk in developing diseases such as lung cancer.

If Metro Detroit had efficient mass transportation, less pollution would be added to the air from vehicles, and our region’s carbon footprint would significantly decrease.

Efficient mass transportation for those unable to afford a car, less road construction and protecting the Earth are three reasons why the Jewish community should support the vote for the RTA plan this November.

We, as Jewish people, should support the RTA in order to improve the lives of thousands of people in the area. As it did many decades ago, Metro Detroit can continue to live up to its name as the “Motor City” while maintaining multiple options of transportation for its citizens.

 

Kimberly Siegel is a resident of Oakland County. She is a member of Detroit Jews for Justice, which is rallying the Jewish community in support of Vote YES for Regional Transit this November.

On Oct. 20, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., Detroit Jews for Justice is partnering with the Downtown Synagogue for a regional transit panel that will discuss history of transit inequity in our region, the issue’s ties to structural racism and opportunities for a better system with passage of the Nov. 8 ballot proposal. The panel will be held at the Downtown Synagogue and is free. Visit detroitjewsforjustice.org to learn about upcoming educational presentations and phone banks. Go to voteyesforregionaltransit.com for information about how you can support the campaign.

 

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