They’ve got the QLINE on lockdown

Quicken/Bedrock, Penske and other corporations accessed nearly $78 Million in public funds and resources slated for public transit on this quasi-public/private real estate project. Now that many downtown buildings and the corporate entertainment complex, (also funded with public $$$) are empty, the Qline is sitting idle. Once again, local corporations exploit the public resources of Detroit, the nation’s largest majority Black city. This isn’t racial equity or justice from many of the corporations that claim to be making commitments and changes. We demand a Racial and Economic Justice Community Benefit Agreement!

CBA for Racial and Economic Justice

Violent Policy Every Day in Detroit

Violence against black bodies shows up in public policy every day in Detroit.

Air, Water and Land Pollution
Cuts to Basic Services
Lack of investment in youth
Public Health Dept. Defunded

Land Grabs & Water Shutoffs
Disinvestment of Neighborhoods
Corporate “Giveaways”
Foreclosures & Evictions

Under-funded Transit
Unaffordable Housing

No ‘Right to Counsel’ in Housing Court
Surveillance & Over Policing
Mass Incarceration

along with many other issues and policies.

We demand more than words. We demand policy that centers race, racial equity and JUSTICE.

We Don’t Need Another QLine

In a recent Crain’s Detroit Business article on the new DDOT Director, Mikel Ogelsby, Mayor Duggan frontlines the idea of an expansion of light rail as part of the new directors responsibilities.

We do not need another Q Line (light rail) on Jefferson or Michigan, we need buses back on time, service restored, and riders & drivers safe.  When bus riders are waiting hours for the Jefferson #9 on weekends prior to Covid 19, what we need is better service.

We are concerned that this focus on light rail development distracts from the need to restore bus service in majority black neighborhoods that serve essential workers. These are workers who remain employed during this pandemic/public health crisis and need better service.  We cannot neglect essential bus riders and their families further siphoning our public funds to more failed private development deals.

We need buses back on time, service restored, and riders & drivers safe! The QLine is not a post-pandemic priority for Detroiters, just more of the same. 

Link (behind firewall, so we’ve quoted below)https://www.crainsdetroit.com/people/detroits-new-public-transportation-director-comes-south-florida-boston-transit-programs

Duggan: “”I also think it’s within the realm of possibility, depending what happens in the national elections, there could be a national infrastructure bill that could have the potential for light rail,” Duggan said, and wants Detroit to be “ready if the opportunity presents itself, whether it’s on Jefferson (Avenue), whether it’s on Michigan (Avenue), we’re looking at a lot of different choices.”

Ogelsby: “I’ve dealt with a lot of capital projects. I’ve started them from the ground up,” Oglesby said. “I believe in creativity. But more importantly, I think, one thing that’s happening here that we really have to focus in on is the safety of the rider and the safety of the operators. So when we come in it’s not just going to be all innovation, it’s going to be getting the base solid.”

Community: “Some activists have spoken for the need for DDOT to ramp up service so essential workers aren’t forced onto overcrowded buses. Calls have also been made, including by Detroit City Council, for a low-income fair pilot program. DDOT said in an April memo to council that it did not recommend it. DDOT has a reduced-fare program for seniors, those with disabilities, students and Medicare recipients, it said, and said the city could not afford the pressure that would cause on the its general fund.”

Recommendations for the Detroit Department of Transportation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Download the Policy Brief: COVID-19 Public Transit Budget Recommendations

April 20, 2020
Background and Summary:

The COVID-19 pandemic and national emergency is an unprecedented public health crisis that had severe impacts on essential bus riders in Detroit. As a result of the State of Michigan emergency executive orders issued by Governor Whitmer, the City of Detroit – Department of Transportation (DDOT) suspended bus fare collection and reduced bus frequency on all routes from 30 – 60 minutes. These decisions have public health, equity, and fiscal considerations that influence the City of Detroit Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget. The negative impacts on essential riders jeopardizes their individual and family’s ability to maintain an income, severely limits access to essential social services, access to groceries and pharmacies, and increases transportation costs for those who can afford mobility services such as Lyft and Uber. Reduced service, crowding at the bus stops and shelters further endanger public health in Detroit.

The City Council is projected to finalize and pass the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget in May 2020, and the Detroit Department of Transportation will continue to receive flat funding from all levels of government at nearly $140 million, including City of Detroit General Fund appropriations for $66,400,000 for FY 2020. According to the Mayor’s COVID-19 Budget Address, the suspension of bus fares is projected to add $55 million to a projected budget deficit of nearly $350 million.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Emergency Security Act (CARES Act) provides $25 billion for public transportation. Detroit will receive $133,892,582 in Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Section 5307 Urbanized Formula Area grant funding for operational and capital expenses related to the COVID-19 losses due to bus service reductions. This grant funding could potentially fund the restoration of pre-COVID -19 crisis bus service levels. This funding will also permit transit agencies to purchase personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, and cleaners), reimburse revenue losses, such as the projected losses due to bus fare suspension, and administrative leave costs related to the reduction in bus services.

The following recommendations centers and addresses the severe negative impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on essential bus riders:

  • Immediately restore bus service to pre-COVID-19 schedules and frequency
  • Utilize CARES ACT FTA Section 5307 supplementary grant funding for bulk purchases of personal protective equipment for bus riders that must at least include face masks and gloves.
  • Utilize HR 1139 (Transportation Operator and Passenger Safety Act) proposed funding for bulk purchase of personal protective equipment for bus drivers
  • Appropriate at least $10 million, based on the November 2019 Detroit Department of Transportation Low Income Fare Analysis, to fund a post-COVID-19 universal reduced fare program for all DDOT passengers for 1 year.
  • Suspend bus fares for the duration of 2020

Sources:

American Public Transportation Association: https://www.apta.com/advocacy-legislation-policy/legislative-updates-alerts/updates/cares-act-provides-25-billion-for-public-transit/

City of Detroit COVID-19 Mayoral Budget Address: https://detroitmi.gov/sites/detroitmi.localhost/files/2020-04/4.14%20budget%20presentation%20final.pdf

Submitted by Detroit People’s Platform
and the Transit Justice Team

April 20, 2020