Southeast Michigan RTA Releases Master Plan

The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan released their Master Plan on May 31.  According to the RTA, “The Regional Master Transit Plan is a transit vision for all of us. It will guide how we expand and improve transit in Southeast Michigan over the next twenty years.”  The plan ( outlines existing conditions and a vision addressing the region’s transit needs.  Throughout the public engagement process, stakeholders were asked to aid in the development of transit priorities.  The top 5 priorities identified were:

  1. Reliability

  2. Mobility

  3. Job access

  4. Livability

  5. Travel time

A quality transit system depends on understanding the needs of those it serves. The Plan outlines the service needs of demographic groups across the region who would benefit from a regional transit system.

  1. Baby Boomers - this population group makes up 25% of the region’s population, nearly 1.1 million people. As the Baby Boomers age they may become less comfortable driving or simply do not want to drive.

  2. Millennials - Southeast Michigan has lost over 103,000 Millennials between 2000-2010, this segment of the population wants better access to mass transit and are willing to move to other cities to get it.

  3. People with Disabilities - often cannot drive or have difficulty driving. Public transit is essential to ensure people can remain mobile and engaged in the community.

  4. Low-Income Individuals - One quarter of all people in SE MI are considered low-income. Transit may be the only viable option for almost 1.1 million people who are low-income in our region.

  5. Zero-Car Households - 9.5% of SE MI residents do not have a car and depend on transit for all activities.


Travel Patterns

The ability of all people to access jobs is crucial to the continued growth of the region. Succeeding in providing access to employment depends on identifying job centers and understanding the link between home and the workplace. The following graphics highlight regional commuting patterns.


The RTA proposes to implement Bus Rapid Transit along Gratiot, Michigan, Washtenaw and Woodward Avenues. Ann Arbor to Detroit regional rail service will offer the first regional job center connections between Washtenaw and Wayne Counties.  The M-1 Rail (Qline Streetcar) will provide key connections to other local and regional transit services. There will be cross county connector services, local bus service, commuter express services, and airport service. The details for these services are given in detail starting on page 109 of the plan.  

Funding Request

The RTA is proposing a transit millage of 1.2 mils that would be collected beginning in 2017 for 20 years. The transit millage will be collected in addition to the existing transit millages in the SMART and AAATA service areas, and communities will not have the ability to opt out if the vote passes.  By legislative requirement, the RTA will return at least 85% of the money generated in a county through the millage returns to that county.  The remaining 15% is eligible for priority projects throughout the region. The RTA’s model will track the 85% Rule compliance across an aggregate 20-year period from 2017-2036.

The RTA set out specific timelines and milestones for delivering the plan’s services, learn more on page 142.

We encourage you to review the plan and its details yourself to learn about the services and strategies identified to connect the region through transit. (

If you have comments or questions on the plan, the RTA has a community input forum where you can provide feedback.  I would encourage you to work directly with the RTA on questions or concerns.  (

There are many meetings happening in the region, 3 of them in Washtenaw County, June 11, 13, and 27. Check the WATS calendar for the details at