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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Mackinac Center expert: Public transit supporters, officials should work with what they have instead of seeking tax hike


By John Breslin | Jan 23, 2020


Supporters of public transport should try and make existing systems work and not ask for more money through more taxes, according to a free market think tank.

James M. Hohman, director of fiscal policy for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, argues that officials in southeast Michigan should try and find out how to make existing public transport work instead of seeking more money.

“Elected officials in Southeast Michigan want to put another tax hike on the ballot to pay for more bus lines or whatever else they may fit into their tax-and-spend transit plan,” Hohman wrote in a post earlier this month. They also want state lawmakers to change some of the rules about funding transit before they seek to get it approved. Transit supporters should instead try to find out how to make the transit they already have work instead of asking for more money.”

Hohman sad policy should be focused on helping people get where they want to go efficiently.

“Transit plans ought to be focused on fixing or reducing the specific problems of people with real transportation needs,” he wrote. “Yet, the metro Detroit plans tend to be just a list of how things officials plan to spend the money on. They propose to create dedicated bus lanes or new routes or rail commuter lines, and typically overpromise ridership numbers and underestimate costs.

“The services may give some people what they want at public cost, but the focus of the plan is clearly just to spend more money on transit-related projects rather than focused on getting people in need where they want to go.”

Hohman cites that that demand is down in the metro Detroit region for rides. He said that the Detroit Department of Transportation say a 35 percent decrease from 2010 to 2018, or 35.7 million rides to 23.3 million.

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