Over these next three weeks, the Motor City Freedom Riders are gearing up for a “Rally for Real Regional Transit.” The event is also being supported by Detroit Jews for Justice. I urge the Metro Detroit Jewish community to attend and raise its voice for accessible and affordable public transit.

The 3-mile QLine streetcar, a $140 million project that duplicates existing bus service along Woodward, is opening May 12 to a planned celebration by “local officials and dignitaries.”

Meanwhile, those same officials and dignitaries continue to do very little about the ongoing transportation crisis in our region, as thousands of Southeast Michigan residents are stranded by the lack of adequate transit service in the city of Detroit and the suburbs.

These are not just “poor people” — our house cleaners and domestic employees — who require decent transit to reach their jobs, homes and children’s schools. They are our young people who have moved into Downtown and Midtown Detroit, nearby neighborhoods and close-in suburbs. They want a quality urban living experience, which means a reliable transit system that really works to get them to all parts of Metro Detroit.

We’re not going to let those same officials and dignitaries continue to evade responsibility for taking action for real regional transit.

Motor City Freedom Riders is hosting rallies around the region on the morning of May 12 to hold them accountable and demand that they take immediate steps to improve transit; most importantly, by placing another regional transit measure on the ballot for voters to approve in 2018 and putting their full support behind that proposal.

Detroit Jews for Justice, who rallied around last year’s ballot campaign, seeks to turn out wide Jewish support for Motor City Freedom Riders and mobilize for a transit system that serves Metro Detroiters of all class backgrounds.

The main rally will be 8-10 a.m. May 12 in Detroit outside the QLine garage on Woodward just north of Grand Boulevard, and there will be sister rallies in Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties as well. Visit the “Motor City Freedom Riders” Facebook page to see details, RSVP and share with others.

We are hosting local gatherings in Ann Arbor and Ferndale next week to plan these sister rallies to target county leadership in demanding that a regional transit plan be put before the voters again in 2018. The Motor City Freedom Riders general membership meeting, from 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4, at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue, will focus on planning and sign making. Visit Motor City Freedom Riders on Facebook to RSVP.

On May 18, the Regional Transit Authority is hosting its board retreat to discuss the future of regional transit. We’ve been continually frustrated by the RTA Board’s unwillingness to be public about where individual voting members stand on putting the measure back on the ballot, so this will be a very important fact-finding opportunity for us to chart our course moving forward. The retreat is open to the public to sit in on, and it will be at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, May 18, at the Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.

To get involved with Detroit Jews for Justice’s transit work or to connect with DJJ leaders attending the May 12 rally, email community organizer Eleanor at eleanor@detroitjewsforjustice.org.

Martin Baum


Martin Baum is a Bloomfield Hills attorney.

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