Blog: Megan Owens

Ironically, early auto workers once rode the streetcar to work in factories. This new model year, facing a crumbled rail system and plant closings, the communities of greater Detroit are assembling a regional transit authority. Megan Owens, the executive director of Transportation Riders United, outlines a timeline of transit and what's needed to make the jump from jalopy to streamlined bus service and regional light rail.

Post 4: The Next Big Transit Win

In the past few blogs, I've explained how your life could be improved by better transit, how far we've come as a region, and the critical next steps to ensuring quality regional transit becomes a reality, even here in the Motor City.
Clearly, the biggest battles are ahead.  Some are happening right now!

We need real regional cooperation among the leaders of Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb Counties and the City of Detroit to create an official regional transit authority.  Mayor Bing and Oakland Executive Patterson have to put parochial interests behind them and support this best opportunity to advance transit for the entire region.

We need to convince the state legislature to invest in transportation by changing the gas tax and allowing regions to vote on a local sales tax.  Too many legislators, led by Senate Leader Mike Bishop, are adamantly opposed to anything that sounds vaguely like a tax, no matter what the need or benefit.  That's got to change.

We've also got an even more immediate test case of both of these critical next steps – the potential to expand transit service and the SMART millage throughout all of Oakland County.  The County Commission will be voting on it in a few short weeks!  All the democrats and one republican are supporting it.  We just need a few more courageous republicans to recognize the enormous need and benefits and support it.  We also need to make sure Executive Patterson doesn't veto it!

We're not leaving any of these vital decisions up to chance!

Transportation Riders United is proud to lead the fight that could decide the direction of transit for decades to come. We are working to demonstrate overwhelming public support with a petition calling for regional cooperation and increased transit investment.  We've got over 12,000 signatures already and need your help to get 40,000 before the end of the year.

We are coordinating meetings between local transit supporters and key elected officials at the state and county levels to ensure these leaders are getting the message.  We are building and demonstrating support throughout the business community, which stands to benefit greatly and has important influence with elected officials.  We also continue to work to spread the word about the benefits of transit through community events, regional media, local presentations, partner groups, social media, and much more.  All that, in addition to actively watchdogging the various transportation plans and projects to ensure that they are done right. 

TRU is Detroit's transit advocate.  We have a decade of experience, research, outreach, advocacy, and planning behind our belt.  We understand what is at stake and we are actively tackling it.  But we can't do it alone. If you support this vision and are excited about this potential, please get involved. 

Go to to sign our petition and ask your friends to do the same. While there, join our email list to keep updated on key transit news, events, opportunities, and more.

Call Oakland Executive Patterson and urge him to support regional transit, including the regional authority and the SMART bus millage. 

Contact your state legislators and tell them you are willing to pay a little more in taxes to support vital transit investments.

Come to TRU's 10th anniversary celebration and/or join TRU as a member to support and advance our work as Detroit’s transit advocate. Imagine vibrant successful communities throughout greater Detroit all connected by convenient efficient rapid transit – then help us make that vision a reality.

Public transit in the Motor City has come so far.  We are on the cusp of real change.  Yet the biggest battles are ahead.  With your help, we can truly ensure that the greater Detroit area becomes as attractive, prosperous, and successful as we all imagine it can be.