Mass transit ridership hits record levels in Metro Detroit

Mass transit ridership continues its climb in Metro Detroit, saving millions of gallons of gas and increasing demand for more effective transportation options.

Michigan transit usage jumped 6 percent from 2007 to 2008. All of those bus and train riders helped save 35.6 million gallons of gas, the amount consumed by 61,800 cars. That also equates to 4.4 billion fewer miles driven in 2008 than in the year before, a 5 percent drop, and 321,000 fewer tons of air pollution.

"People are voting with their feet by driving less and taking more public transportation," says Shelley Vinyard, a spokeswoman for Ann Arbor-based Environment Michigan.

These numbers come when Metro Detroit is pursuing plans to dramatically expand and improve its mass transit system, primarily by adding rail lines to the mix. Detroit and Ann Arbor are looking at adding streetcar lines, and there are plans to create commuter rail lines between Detroit and Ann Arbor and north from Ann Arbor to Howell.

However, there have also been attempts to cut transportation funding at the local and state levels. Environment Michigan and other groups/local politicians are calling for more funding to meet the growing demand for mass transit.

"We need more public transit funding so we can provide more choices for the increased demand across the state," Vinyard says.

Source: Shelley Vinyard, a spokeswoman for Ann Arbor-based Environment Michigan
Writer: Jon Zemke
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