- Fully serve the transit dependent who live in and visit Livingston County – seniors, disabled, those without a car
- Provide regular scheduled bus or train service between major destination in and near Livingston County (employment, health care, education, airport, entertainment, . . .)
- Stimulate economic development and property value in our county.
- Increase the livability and vitality of our region through an array of transportation options, including auto, bus, train, bicycling and walking.
Current state of transportation (here and elsewhere):
- The Livingston EssentialTransportation Service (LETS) provides dial-a-ride (paratransit) service that meets a fraction of the needs of the transit dependent. Other organizations, such as senior centers, Catholic Charities and LOVE, INC, serve many others, yet the needs of many other go unmet.
- There is no scheduled bus service in the county, and some businesses are having difficulty getting workers to their locations.
- There is no commuter rail service to destinations near our county or beyond.
- There is an emerging bicycle network in southern Livingston County, but, in general, the environment for walking and bicycling around the county is “unfriendly” and in many areas dangerous
- Other regions of our state and nation are investing heavily in transit and receiving high returns on those investments from economic development and quality of life for their residents. Much of their investments are supported by federal and state funds, with a relatively small fraction coming from “local match.” As such, our tax dollars that Livingston County residents pay to Lansing and Washington are being spent in other areas to improve their communities, not ours.
- Other communities and counties in SE MI are moving forward with plans and development of effective transit systems, including:
- Creation of the Regional Transit Authority to serve Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland and Macomb Counties
- Planning of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) network to provide high speed commuting for RTA region (BRT is in effect, a small train on rubber tires that doesn’t require rail construction.)
- Coordination of services of five transit providers in SE MI by the RTA
- Building the M-1 Rail Line in Detroit, with hundreds of millions invested along its route even before it operates in early 2017.
- SEMCOG planning for the East-West Commuter Rail from Ann Arbor to Detroit.
- Studies of the “Coast-to-Coast” rail service from Detroit to Holland (through Livingston County) and the North-South Commuter Rail from Howell to Ann Arbor.
- Our Metropolitan Planning Organization (SEMCOG) has allocated several hundred thousands of federal dollars for expanded LETS services, but it will go unspent because of the lack of local match
- LETS exists as a department of the County instead of a transit authority. As such, it is unable to seek dedicated funding streams from the citizens.
A Vision for Transportation
In order to be embraced and supported by our residents, any vision and subsequent plan for transportation needs to be efficient, affordable and effective in achieving the impacts, including a multiplying of local investment dollars and a leveraged impact on the economic and personal wellbeing of our county and its citizens.
Elements of the Vision
- Expanded paratransit services that efficiently serve all needs of our transit dependent citizens
- Regular scheduled bus services along Grand River, M36, M59 and at least two north-south routes in the County
- Commuter rail service to Ann Arbor that runs at least 10 times daily in each direction on weekdays, and less on weekends. This service will be linked with and coordinated with the East West Commuter rail to Detroit, the Coast-to-Coast rail service and the Amtrak service.
- Regular bus service will be provided from Livingston County to Wayne County Airport (to complement rail service on the N-S and E-W commuter rail lines).
- Bus service at both ends will efficiently bring riders to the start of their rail ride and deliver them to their destination at the end of their rail ride.
- Bike lanes/trails, separated from road traffic, will allow safe riding and walking throughout our region, including connection to rail and bus lines and access to the business districts of Howell, Brighton, Fowlerville, Whitmore Lake, etc,. . . and linkages to the existing and planned trail networks of Island Lake (connecting to Kensington, Milford and Huron Valley Trails) and Lakelands Trail (connecting to Green Oaks, Hamburg, Pinckney, Chelsea and Dexter).
- Most of this multimodal system will be planned, developed and operated by a Livingston County Transit Authority, and funded by a variety of federal, state and local sources (both public and private).
This multi-modal transit system will
- Lead to economic growth along rail, bus and bicycle routes
- Serve the needs of our growing senior citizen population
- Serve the needs of the transit dependent
- Get people to work, health care, education and entertainment destinations without dealing with congestion, weather and parking in densely developed areas.
- Reduce public investments in roadbuilding and maintenance
- Make Livingston County a much more desirable place to live, work, visit, and invest.
- Improve our health and environment
Drafted by Leo E. Hanifin
December 9, 2015