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Transit Update

Transit Update

Recent developments such as the Qline and now the Amazon HQ2 proposal have suddenly heightened the need for reliable public transportation.

The belated reaction and urgency from decision-makers to provide reliable bus service is an insult to majority-black bus riders and speaks to the long standing racist policies that have led to the decline of the Detroit Public Transit System.

Where was the urgency in 2012 and years after, when the city severely cut funding to the Detroit Department of Transportation? Bus riders in Detroit, who are mostly black had to endure long waits, often with no-show buses, lack of seating at bus stops, and sometimes being stranded.

This new urgency to provide decent public transportation is the result of policy shift and public resources being redirected for the benefit of developers and wealthy individuals that use our public funding for their own private gain.

The Qline is a prime example with the redirection of our public tax dollars, over $70 million, used to create a streetcar that only serves Downtown Detroit, which is increasingly white and wealthy. This new urgency reveals that transit-dependent riders, individuals that use the bus as their sole means of transportation, majority-black and low-income bus riders, were never and are not now a priority.

As newcomers are moving into Detroit, their right to “reliable, convenient and comfortable transportation” as stated in the City Charter of Detroit suddenly becomes a mandate. Public transportation in Detroit has shifted from a service that barely met the needs of bus riders in Detroit to now fitting the needs of choice-riders, many that have private vehicles but opt to use public transit.

How Public Transit is shifting to the benefit of choice riders:

  • Transit-dependent riders in Detroit still have to take more time out of their day riding the bus to ensure they are on time for work, school, and medical appointments. Riders often have to leave 1-2 hours early, to make up for the fact that commutes within the city take over ½ to 1 hour to reach their destination. Whereas new bus lines like SMART FAST and REFLEX feature faster and frequent buses that have limited stops.

 

  • Since 2016, DDOT has created several new “express and direct” routes: #95 Ryan Express, #96 Joy Express, #80 Villages Express, #89 Southwest Direct, #92 Rosedale Express. These routes are one-way, twice-a-day lines that commute people between neighborhoods in SW Detroit, Grandmont-Rosedale, East Outer Drive and Ryan, West Village to Midtown and Downtown Detroit. These new lines take buses from the existing fleet to provide this service. However, many routes within the city still have long wait times and are unreliable, for example: Schoolcraft #43, Conant #12, Russell, and Southfield.

 

  • The new SMART, FAST (“Frequent, Affordable, Safe Transit”) bus service is a high-frequency, bus service with lines on Woodward, Gratiot, and Michigan Avenue that extend from Downtown Detroit to the suburbs. This service has on-board WI-FI Internet access, seven-day and late-night service. Eventually, SMART shelters will feature LCD-screens that show the wait-time and an emergency button connected to customer service and local police. Currently DDOT has no such amenities on their buses and bus shelters.

From Detroit People’s Platform NEWS #12, MLK Day edition, January 15, 2018. Download the Detroit People’s Platform NEWS at http://detroitpeoplesplatform.org and learn more about our work in REAL Community Benefits, truly affordable housing and transit that meets the needs of everyday Detroiters. Join the conversation #BlackMajorityDetroit

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Amend the CBO!

“In the first century BC, Cicero said: “Freedom is participation in power.” Negroes should never want all power because they would deprive others of their freedom. By the same token, Negroes can never be content without participation in power. America must be a nation in which its multiracial people are partners in power. This is the essence of democracy toward which all Negro struggles have been directed since the distant past when he was transplanted here in chains.”  – Dr. Martin Luther  King, Jr. Where do we go from here, Chaos or Community?

 

The current Community Benefits Ordinance (CBO) has failed Detroiters with an inadequate process that denies residents true power and prevents them from obtaining genuine community benefits. Authentic community power is the highest level of community participation, and it is necessary for equity in the community development process and the creation of a REAL Community Benefit Agreement.

Without community power, community engagement is an empty ritual. Meaningful negotiation allows community members to utilize their power as decision makers to influence development projects in ways that work best for them. Through an equitable partnership, negotiations result in benefits that meet the needs of both the developer and the community.

The developments that have gone through the current CBO process have involved no negotiation between Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) members and developers. The current process provides no accountability regarding the use of public money, because community needs are not required to be addressed in exchange for the incentives and resources developers are receiving.

The CBO Reports produced by Planning and Development for each project do not accurately reflect a negotiated agreement between the NAC and the developer, and therefore are not genuine community benefit agreements.

Under the current ordinance developers are receiving a windfall, and community is receiving nothing. Detroit’s current CBO is in need of amendment to facilitate truly negotiated agreements between residents and developers.

Amendment Recommendations:
Legally Binding Community Benefits Report:
The result of the CBO process must be a legally binding contractual agreement between the NAC and the Developer.

Require Authentic Negotiations between Developer & NAC: The developer should be required to receive NAC approval before the CBO Report is presented to Council. This would incentivize the developer to negotiate and compromise with the NAC regarding the community concerns they present. This requirement would also provide a method for the NAC to secure genuine community benefits in exchange for the developer’s receipt of public funds.

Penalty for Non-compliance: Developers who do not participate in the CBO process in good faith should be restricted from receiving public funds and benefits from their projects, or subject to suspension or revocation of public funds and benefits.

From Detroit People’s Platform NEWS #12, MLK Day edition, January 15, 2018. Download the Detroit People’s Platform NEWS at http://detroitpeoplesplatform.org and learn more about our work in REAL Community Benefits, truly affordable housing and transit that meets the needs of everyday Detroiters. Join the conversation #DetroitPeoples

 

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2017 in Review

2017 in Review

2017 in Review
It was one helluva of a year! 

“The cause of a demonstration is the existence of some form of exploitation or oppression that has made it necessary for men of courage and goodwill to protest the evil.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Where do we go from here, Chaos or Community?

These are just a few of the many events we organized and participated in last year. 

2017 Candidate Nights – People’s Platform hosted 7 well-attended opportunities for voters to meet with and educate candidates.

WhyLine Action – In June the Qline opened. Over 100 People’s Platform members and supporters gathered to express their dissent and demand REAL CBAs when public funds are used for private projects.

Tax Foreclosure Protest – Called by the Coalition to End Illegal Tax Foreclosures, we gathered in front of the house of Wayne County Treasurer, Eric Sabree.

Little Caesar’s Arena Protest – Protesting the lack of real community benefits for everyday Detroiters and the insult of opening a public funded arena in a majority-black city with six Kid Rock shows. Hundreds of Detroiters marched on Woodward. Counter protesters displayed the confederate flag.

Wealth Stripping and Race – We were honored to host this powerful workshop presented by Maurice Weeks the Co-Executive Director of ACRE.

Housing Trust Fund Established – In November, the Affordable Housing Ordinance was passed and a Housing Trust Fund was established.

Hudson’s Site Ground Breaking Protest – A small group of Detroiters gathered in the freezing cold to disrupt Dan Gilbert/Bedrock’s ground-breaking celebration.

Thank you to everyone who joined with us and supported our efforts in 2017! In Solidarity!

From Detroit People’s Platform NEWS #12, MLK Day edition, January 15, 2018. Download the Detroit People’s Platform NEWS at http://detroitpeoplesplatform.org and learn more about our work in REAL Community Benefits, truly affordable housing and transit that meets the needs of everyday Detroiters. Join the conversation #BlackMajorityDetroit

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New Video: I Dream Detroit: The Voice and Vision of Women of Color on Detroit’s Future

New Video: I Dream Detroit: The Voice and Vision of Women of Color on Detroit’s Future

Rev. Roslyn Bouier and Monica Lewis Patrick on Black American Journal

Women of color say they feel left out of Detroit’s resurgence. In a report titled “I Dream Detroit: The Voice and Vision of Women of Color on Detroit’s Future.” Nearly 500 Black, Latina, Arab, American Indian, and Asian women were surveyed and 71% felt left out of the city’s revival. Stephen talks to Ed Egnatios, Reverend Roslyn Bouier, and Monica Lewis Patrick about this report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detroit News: “Women of color absent in Detroit‘s recovery”

 
Michigan Chronicle: ” ‘I Dream Detroit‘ brings women of color into Detroit‘s economic dialogue”
https://michronicleonline.com/2017/10/10/idreamdetroit-brings-women-of-color-into-detroits-economic-dialogue/
I Dream Detroit website

 

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Two New Videos, Two Detroits #AmazonDetroit #MoveTheWorld

Two New Videos, Two Detroits #AmazonDetroit #MoveTheWorld

On October 19th, two new videos about Detroit dropped. One was the city’s bid for Amazon to move to Detroit, the other lifting up the need for Community Benefit Agreements around large public funded projects.

These two videos demonstrate the vast difference in experience and opinion between those Detroiters who are benefiting from the changes underway and those who are being left behind or moved along.

From the Black Bottom Archives: “The Ilitches’ choice to open their brand new, highly subsidized sports and concert venue with a Kid Rock concert has generated a lot of anger and left many Detroiters feeling disrespected. But the Ilitches’ disrespect for Detroiters began long before the first shovel hit the ground to build the new arena. It began with Olympia Development’s refusal of a real community benefits agreement that would have made them truly accountable to Detroiters whose money the developers were using for private profit.” The video has been written about in the metrotimes: https://www.metrotimes.com/news-hits/archives/2017/10/19/new-video-explains-why-kid-rock-at-the-pizzarena-is-just-the-tip-of-the-iceberg

As we continue to work for REAL Community Benefits around projects that use public funds like Little Caesars’ Arena, the city is making a bid for the Amazon HQ2.

Questions about the Amazon Deal:
How much in the way of tax incentives and other public resources are the current city leaders willing to sacrifice to bring Amazon to Detroit? Read More:

“Members of the Detroit region’s 60-member Amazon committee have been tight-lipped all week about what the city would specifically offer Amazon in terms of tax incentives, mass transportation options for employees and filling a talent pool that dwarfs the size of any existing Detroit company (Gilbert’s family of companies employ 17,000 in downtown Detroit).” Crain’s

Amazon’s red herring

 An Open Letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Detroit People’s Platform and many of our partners have signed on to the national campaign around Jobs, Tax Incentives, Accountability and Transparency and Amazon’s new headquarters, wherever they end up. Read More about the national campaign: https://ourhq2wishlist.org/#

 

 

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1967 Rebellion Commemoration: State of the People Address

1967 Rebellion Commemoration: State of the People Address

 

1967 Detroit Rebellion Celebration: State of the People Address​Saturday, August 5, 12 – 3 PM
Team Wellness Center – East
6309 Mack Ave, Detroit, MI 48207-2302

“1967 Detroit Rebellion Celebration: State of the People Address” examines the critical issues confronting Detroit voters in the 2017 elections through the lens of the 1967 Rebellion. These issues include: 1) anti-blackness and othering; 2) displacement of long-term Detroiters due to school closures, water shutoffs and illegal tax foreclosures; 3) regional injustice; and 4) the need for equitable forms of development. We must explore these issues’ deep, historical roots to fully understand the challenges facing Detroit today.

 

Learn from some of Detroit’s best organizers on the historical context of the 1967 Rebellion and our continued fight today against the issues facing our city. #DetroitVotes4Equity

This community event has been organized and supported by:
Detroit Equity Action Lab, Michigan Voice, Detroit People’s Platform, MOSES, Cair Michigan, We the People of Detroit, Detroit Historical Society, Detroit 67 Project

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Proposed Capital Budget and Impact on DDOT

Proposed Capital Budget and Impact on DDOT

This past February, the city council held hearings for the Capital Agenda – a multi-year plan that sets budget standards for purchasing equipment, maintenance of city property, including recreation centers, Rosa Parks Transit Center, warehouses, maintenance facilities like the Shoemaker Terminal, and other facilities the city maintains.

The bulk of capital funding recommended and forecasted through 2018 and some years after will focus on vehicle replacement, purchasing of more buses, and mid-life vehicle overhaul. Other investments include security, technology upgrades, and equipment.

This means the city will focus on upgrading and purchasing of more buses that include both standard and the longer 60ft articulated buses. However, this also means that we will continue to deal with bus stops without seating and shelter outside of busy areas where passengers use transfers and main streets.

On February 24th, Dan Dirks, Director of the Detroit Department of Transportation, submitted the DDOT budget request for the upcoming budget year in the budget hearings for city council. The total proposed budget for DDOT through 2018 is $133 million. According to the Four Year Financial Plan (Plan of Adjustment) that lasts through fiscal year 2019, the Department of Transportation budget breaks down into four major areas –  department administration, plant maintenance, vehicle maintenance, and transportation. The budget plan defines vehicle maintenance of “providing clean, safe, and reliable coaches and support vehicles for daily use”, this is the city’s spending on the buses. Transportation is responsible for the day to day bus operation for passengers in the DDOT service area.

The proposed budget plan for DDOT vehicle maintenance and transportation for 2017-2019 is as follows

Vehicle Maintenance:
2017 – 2018: $29.1 million
2018-  2019: $27.9 million

Transportation
(Vehicle operation and ADA Transportation Service):
2017 – 2018: $48,723,113
2018 – 2019: $47,898,385

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Transit Gentrification

Transit Gentrification

In the months leading up to the November 8th election day, we’ve spoken to a few bus riders on the Woodward #53 bus line, and at the Rosa Parks Transit Center to get a general idea of what transit riders thought about the M1-Rail streetcar project and the upcoming RTA vote. Many bus riders associated the streetcar project directly to the RTA ballot proposal. If they didn’t know what the RTA was proposing to build in the city, they definitely were aware of a connection between the QLine and the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan. The RTA was slated to take over the QLine in 2027, according to their finalized Regional Master Transit Plan.  Further, bus riders along Woodward #53 route complained about long bus waits, constantly moving bus stops, lack of public notice regarding any changes with bus service along Woodward, elderly and individuals with disabilities being passed up, overcrowded buses, and the fact that what many describe incorrectly as a “streetcar” does not cross 8 Mile Road into Oakland County, and will only travel along a 3.3-mile route.

The bus riders we’ve spoken to view the QLine as a “streetcar to nowhere” or “another People Mover.” These comments speak to the increasing transit divide, driven by economic gain for the “few” vs the transit needs of the many. This transit divide is also accompanying the gentrification and displacement occurring in midtown/downtown. You do not need to be a transit expert to see that the QLine does not represent public transit, nor does it benefit the majority of the bus riders living in Detroit. The QLine project is a prime example of “transit gentrification” and highlights the growing disparity in mobility options in Detroit.

There is a growing emphasis on public-private partnerships that over-promise and often under deliver in terms of addressing the needs of community and the QLine represents such an effort. According to Crain’s Detroit Business, the QLine used $74.2 million of public funding from local, state, and federal sources . Additionally, $52.9 million from the US Dept. of Transportation and Michigan Dept. of Transportation was used for reconstruction of Woodward for the purpose of building the QLine . This is public funding that could have addressed the 30 minute to 1hr wait times that are common on many of the bus routes that travel into Detroit neighborhoods where transit options are limited.

Yet our public funds have been invested in the “modern streetcars” that will travel along the QLine route. The cars will have heated stops with corporate branding; rails that are snow plowed; Wi-Fi internet in the cars, and more bike racks than are typically offered on DDOT buses. This situation goes well beyond an example of transit gentrification, in 2017, this is transit injustice!  Many who are not part of the new Detroit demographic are likely to disappear from Woodward Ave below the Boulevard.  North End residents got a maintenance station for the Q Line in their neighborhood but not a Q Line stop.  You cannot board the streetcar in the North End.

We believe the future of the Woodward #53 bus route is in jeopardy for several reasons. With the QLine slated to be in operation in Spring 2017, the Woodward #53 bus will compete for curb space and customers, so it may be diverted to Cass St. or John R., to be rerouted back to Woodward north of Warren or the Boulevard. Even transit decision-makers at the RTA/DDOT are unclear about the future of the Woodward #53, but they believe that the re-routing of the Woodward line is necessary. Any parking along Woodward, curbside and along the QLine track is illegal and car drivers could be ticketed up to $650 for parking along the route. Increasingly, the future of Woodward is being transformed from Detroit’s main thoroughfare to a pedestrian/walkable/bike route that will disrupt public transit for a majority of bus riders in the city. Bus riders living in the North End neighborhood (north of West Grand Boulevard) are either forced to walk past the Boulevard to board the QLine, or will be “encouraged” to ride the re-routed Woodward 53.

The conclusion is that in 2017 public transit in Detroit is likely to be more segregated by race and class. How long will riders have to wait for their route become a priority for improvements? We are cautious to celebrate any expansion or so called transit improvements, if it does not include the majority of Detroiters that use public transit for school, work, recreation, shopping, or medical needs – then we will delay the celebration until ALL Detroiters have access to a fair and just public transit system.

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What’s ahead for Detroit Transit in 2017 – Transit Gentrification

What’s ahead for Detroit Transit in 2017 – Transit Gentrification

TransitUpdate2017Header

After the November 8th elections, many Detroit voters, especially bus riders, are probably wondering about the future of public transit in Detroit after the failed Regional Transit Authority’s (RTA) ballot proposal for regional transit.  Despite the failed ballot proposal, 2017 will bring a few changes to public transit in Detroit, with the opening of the QLine in Spring 2017 (most likely April) and DDOT’s largest service expansion taking place in late January 2017.

The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) is still in existence and will continue to have its own funding despite the failed RTA ballot proposal. The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan will also remain in existence, only with enough funding to manage its operations, staff, but not to implement those new services that was proposed in the “Regional Master Transit Plan.” Now, the RTA will have to wait until the next general election, either in the 2018 midterm congressional and gubernatorial elections, or the 2020 presidential election, to place a proposal on the ballot.

The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan will also remain in existence, only with enough funding to manage its operations, staff, but not to implement those new services that was proposed in the “Regional Master Transit Plan.”

Currently, DDOT is in the process of expanding service with new express routes, increasing late-night and weekend service on certain routes, reduced wait times, and expanding 24-hr service to three (3) additional routes, to the current six (6) routes that have 24-hr service (Grand River #21, Gratiot #34, Woodward #53, Crosstown #14, Dexter #16 and Seven Mile #45). After January 23rd, there will be three new 24hr routes: Jefferson #25, Michigan #37, and Van-Dyke-Lafayette #48. This will make a total of 9 bus routes with 24-hour service. How well the service will be implemented is a question of accountability. The Detroit People’s Platform will continue to monitor and assess the benefits of this expanded service expansion in regards to our base of over 600 Detroiters that rely on DDOT.

In the months leading up to the November 8th election day, we’ve spoken to a few bus riders on the Woodward #53 bus line, and at the Rosa Parks Transit Center to get a general idea of what transit riders thought about the M1-Rail streetcar project and the upcoming RTA vote. Many bus riders associated the streetcar project directly to the RTA ballot proposal. If they didn’t know what the RTA was proposing to build in the city, they definitely were aware of a connection between the QLine and the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan. The RTA was slated to take over the QLine in 2027, according to their finalized Regional Master Transit Plan.  Further, bus riders along Woodward #53 route complained about long bus waits, constantly moving bus stops, lack of public notice regarding any changes with bus service along Woodward, elderly and individuals with disabilities being passed up, overcrowded buses, and the fact that what many describe incorrectly as a “streetcar” does not cross 8 Mile Road into Oakland County, and will only travel along a 3.3-mile route.

The bus riders we’ve spoken to view the QLine as a “streetcar to nowhere” or “another People Mover.” These comments speak to the increasing transit divide, driven by economic gain for the “few” vs the transit needs of the many. This transit divide is also accompanying the gentrification and displacement occurring in midtown/downtown. You do not need to be a transit expert to see that the QLine does not represent public transit, nor does it benefit the majority of the bus riders living in Detroit. The QLine project is a prime example of “transit gentrification” and highlights the growing disparity in mobility options in Detroit.

You do not need to be a transit expert to see that the QLine does not represent public transit, nor does it benefit the majority of the bus riders living in Detroit. The QLine project is a prime example of “transit gentrification” and highlights the growing disparity in mobility options in Detroit.

There is a growing emphasis on public-private partnerships that over-promise and often under deliver in terms of addressing the needs of community and the QLine represents such an effort. According to Crain’s Detroit Business, the QLine used $74.2 million of public funding from local, state, and federal sources . Additionally, $52.9 million from the US Dept. of Transportation and Michigan Dept. of Transportation was used for reconstruction of Woodward for the purpose of building the QLine . This is public funding that could have addressed the 30 minute to 1hr wait times that are common on many of the bus routes that travel into Detroit neighborhoods where transit options are limited.

Yet our public funds have been invested in the “modern streetcars” that will travel along the QLine route. The cars will have heated stops with corporate branding; rails that are snow plowed; Wi-Fi internet in the cars, and more bike racks than are typically offered on DDOT buses. This situation goes well beyond an example of transit gentrification, in 2017, this is transit injustice!  Many who are not part of the new Detroit demographic are likely to disappear from Woodward Ave below the Boulevard.  North End residents got a maintenance station for the Q Line in their neighborhood but not a Q Line stop.  You cannot board the streetcar in the North End.

We believe the future of the Woodward #53 bus route is in jeopardy for several reasons. With the QLine slated to be in operation in Spring 2017, the Woodward #53 bus will compete for curb space and customers, so it may be diverted to Cass St. or John R., to be rerouted back to Woodward north of Warren or the Boulevard. Even transit decision-makers at the RTA/DDOT are unclear about the future of the Woodward #53, but they believe that the re-routing of the Woodward line is necessary. Any parking along Woodward, curbside and along the QLine track is illegal and car drivers could be ticketed up to $650 for parking along the route. Increasingly, the future of Woodward is being transformed from Detroit’s main thoroughfare to a pedestrian/walkable/bike route that will disrupt public transit for a majority of bus riders in the city. Bus riders living in the North End neighborhood (north of West Grand Boulevard) are either forced to walk past the Boulevard to board the QLine, or will be “encouraged” to ride the re-routed Woodward 53.

The conclusion is that in 2017 public transit in Detroit is likely to be more segregated by race and class. How long will riders have to wait for their route become a priority for improvements? We are cautious to celebrate any expansion or so called transit improvements, if it does not include the majority of Detroiters that use public transit for school, work, recreation, shopping, or medical needs – then we will delay the celebration until ALL Detroiters have access to a fair and just public transit system.

Transit Update, Jan 2017 – Transit Gentrification

 

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