building a religious coalition to fight for fair access to public transportation

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned here on the site that some folks were setting out to build a grassroots coalition of regional public transportation users. Well, since then, the group has met once in Ypsi, and, while I wasn’t able to attend the meeting, I know someone who was. A Township resident by the name of Tad Wysor was there, and he just sent me the following report to share with you:

The Dec 2 Community Tranisit Forum, held at Ekklesia Fellowship Ministries in downtown Ypsi, was an important step in the formation of a new community organizing project in the Ypsi/Belleville/Ann Arbor area. A very diverse group of pastors and lay leaders from several area congregations have been working in recent months with SE Michigan’s MOSES organization – an affiliate of the national Gamaliel Foundation – to create a powerful vehicle for local people of faith and others to organize around issues that reflect our common values and to win policy changes that will affect thousands of residents.

This new grassroots effort has involved research, trainings, and one-on-one relationship-building, and these conversations have pointed to, among other things, the sorry state of transit in our area as a concern many feel passionate about. The Transit Forum was our first major public event on this issue, which was a chance to move toward a focused campaign on transit. In good community organizing fashion, the event also provided an opportunity for our clergy and lay leaders to practice hosting an educational, effective, and enjoyable community event. Eighty people from congregations, unions, and others found time during a busy season to show our concerns to local transit leaders and to learn more about the issue. Guests were Terri Blackmore, Director of the Washtenaw Area Transit Study and Jim Fetzer, Director of Service Development for the SMART transit system in Wayne County. Dawn Gabay, Interim Director of AATA, was scheduled to attend but was unable to at the last minute.

The key clergy and lay leaders did a great job of sending the message that – when we’re together, we can do big things. And they helped setup the issue for those attending. They walked through several questions for the transit experts, and they sent us out to do more research and prepare for a January 8 strategy meeting (at 6:30 at First Congregational United Church of Christ on N. Adams @ Emmett in Ypsi). Key questions are whether we can be a catalyst for pulling together other potential institutional supporters and grassroots organizations to launch permanent county-wide solution to AATA’s unstable financing of transit outside of Ann Arbor proper (including a vote on a small millage, possibly in August) as well as a bus connection to Belleville/Wayne County and commuter rail.

And here are the primary issues that were discussed during the meeting.


Washtenaw County Bus Service

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  1. j7uy5
    Posted December 20, 2008 at 2:14 am | Permalink

    Also, for what it is worth, there is a coalition of planning types who have emphasized the need for equity in the process of building up the transportation infrastructure:

    America 2050

    If you accept the notion that the decline of the middle class is part of the cause of the economic meltdown, then it would make sense to intervene by protecting the economic well-being of the middle class.

    Although gas prices are down right now, that obviously won’t last. It will be harder for people to get and keep jobs, if they can’t get to work.

    Plus, transportation spending often increases tax revenue by an amount greater than that which was spent, thus improving the government’s balance sheet.

    I think it is obvious that we are going to need that.

  2. mark
    Posted December 20, 2008 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    For any number of reasons, it makes sense to stress public transportation right now. Whether you’re looking at it economically, or ecologically, it’s the right thing to do… Thank you for the link, j7uy5. I’ll check it out.

  3. Posted December 20, 2008 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    Everybody ride the Jesus train!

  4. Ol' E Cross
    Posted December 20, 2008 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    Only problem is that all the trains are bound for glory.

  5. Glen S.
    Posted September 6, 2009 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    At a special meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 8 at City Hall, the Ypsilanti City Council will be considering a variety of proposals for major cuts to bus service in the city. At the meeting, officials from the Ann Arbor Transit Authority (AATA) will present City officials with several options for cuts which, if adopted, would take effect as soon as Spring 2010. These proposals include the complete or partial elimination of routes serving large portions of the city, as well as cutting days or times when service is available citywide.

    This special meeting is in response to the Ypsilanti City Council’s recently-passed budget for Fiscal Year 2010, which allocates only 56 percent of the total amount AATA says it needs to provide existing service levels next year.

    Since the current contract with AATA expires at the end of September, City Council will need to decide by October 1 whether it wishes to adopt some or all of the service reductions — or — whether council members wish to amend this year’s budget to allocate the funding necessary to maintain existing service levels.

    I know this is short notice (especially given the holiday weekend), but I hope that everyone who is interested will consider attending Tuesday’s meeting to share their thoughts about what such significant cuts to public transit would mean for our many low-income, senior citizen and handicapped neighbors who depend on this vital service; as well as for other important community goals, such as making Ypsilanti a more walkable and sustainable community, and for the eventual success of Ypsilanti’s stop on the proposed Detroit-to-Ann Arbor commuter rail project.

  6. Sylvia
    Posted September 6, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    No problemo. I promise to make a poster and hang it in Ikea.

  7. kjc
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    wow. awful.

    thanks for the notice Glen.

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