I know I’ve mentioned this episode of the Saturday Six Pack before, but, I thought that I’d better post a more comprehensive tonight, seeing as how it deals with the regional transit master plan that we’ll all be voting on come Tuesday.
For what it’s worth, I will be voting yes on the RTA initiative, which, among other things, would create a Detroit-Ann Arbor rail line with a stop in Ypsilanti, and Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) between Ann Arbor and Ypsi. Hopefully, after you listen, you’ll agree with me that it makes good sense.
Joining us for our conversation about the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) plan, were Ben Stupka from the RTA, Gillian Ream Gainsley from the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (AAATA), and Megan Owens from Transit Riders United, each of whom can be see in the following image. [Stupka is at the top left. Ream Gainsley is on the right. And Owens is at the bottom left. If I’d had more time, I would have arranged them so that they were all looking at each other, like in the opening credits of the Brady Bunch.]
I know I said that this would be a comprehensive post, but, as I’ve been out this evening, canvassing for Hillary Clinton, I just don’t have the energy. So I’m just going to suggest that you listen to the fist segment to learn all about the regional transit master plan, and what it could mean to those of us who live and work in southeast Michigan.
As for why this is happening now, after 20-some previous attempts to coordinate mass transit across southeast Michigan have failed before making to the ballot, my guests seemed to think that the timing was finally right. They talked about how attitudes concerning both Detroit and mass transit had changed in recent years, and how politicians and business leaders had finally come to agree that a comprehensive plan was called for. Young Michiganders, they said, were demanding it. And this time, they said, it looked as though it was finally going to happen, assuming, of course, that the voters of Wayne, Washtenaw, Macomb and Oakland counties vote in favor of the RTA’s proposed transit millage, which would cost the average homeowner approximately $95 per year.
Here, if you’ve yet to see it, is a map of the proposed rail and rapid bus lines that will be constructed over the coming years, assuming, of course, that a majority of us vote yes on Tuesday.
[For a larger version of the proposed service map, click here.]
Then, at the 46-minute mark, after listening to a new song by our friend Peter Larson in Kenya, we were joined by University of Michigan art professor Nick Tobier, co-author of the Utopia Toolbox: An Incitement to Radical Creativity, a new anthology of amazing projects, thought provoking observations and artistic prompts intended to inspire those interested in doing things like reclaiming public space, facilitating community dialogue, and bringing visibility to places that are ofter overlooked. Tobier and I, in addition to talking about his personal work, which is focused on encouraging people to see their surroundings differently, also talked at length about the evolution of Ann Arbor over the time that he’s live here. [He moved to Ann Arbor just as the Tech Center burned down.] Here’s Tobier telling me, after discussing the forces in Ann Arbor that were pushing for Segway riding “ambassadors” charged with opening doors for people, shooing away panhandlers, and the like, that we need “more resistance.”
And, lastly, at the 1:17-mark, we welcomed in singer songwriter Chris Buhalis, who, in addition to playing songs off his new record, Big Car Town, talked at length about how Ann Arbor has changed in the time that he’s lived there, echoing much of what Tobier had said about the influx of non-local investment dollars changing the look and feel of the town. We also talked, among other things, about the politics that inform his music, the circumstances surrounding his decision to first pick the guitar, and his memories of growing up in a union family in Detroit. Here’s Buhalis telling us how he first learned to play guitar in Ypsilanti, after dropping out of college. He’d wanted to be a novelist, he said, but his pieces kept getting shorter and shorter, until they were songs… I could say more, but you should really just listen. It’s good stuff, I promise.
Oh, and, if you didn’t like this episode, it’s probably because I wasn’t drinking beer, as I was on antibiotics for a stomach issue, and even the thought of alcohol made me feel like puking.
Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show and station owner Brian Robb for running the board, making sure the bills paid, and insuring that the toilet paper and bleach stays stocked.
If you like this episode, check out our archive of past shows at iTunes. And do please leave a review if you have the time, OK? It’s nice to know that people are listening, and, unless you call in, that’s pretty much the only way we know.
Now, if you haven’t already, please listen for yourself, and experience the magic firsthand.
[Episode 46 of the Saturday Six Pack was recorded live on June 11, 2016, in historic downtown Ypsilanti, Michigan, in the studies of AM1700 Radio.]