Below is Disability Network/Michigan's position statement on transportation. This information is supported by the Common Disability Agenda.
- Accessible, affordable and available Public Transportation is a common goal. Many Michigan citizens with or without disabilities depend on public transportation in order to pursue their education, to get to work, to receive medical services and to participate in community activities such as church, shopping and visiting family and friends.
These transportation services need to be safe, seamless, affordable and universally accessible. Nearly half of Michigan’s 83 counties have little or no public transportation services. To achieve the goal of a statewide system of accessible, affordable and available transportation, Michigan must develop and sustain innovative, diverse and user-friendly options for transit while insuring a stable funding base.
Thoughtful and Effective Land Use Policy is a Common Goal.
The majority of Michigan citizens live in urban and suburban environments which sprawl across large geographic areas. Citizens with disabilities are increasingly disconnected and disadvantaged in these environments in large part because they lack the financial resources, the natural supports, and the transportation to readily achieve inclusion in these sprawling human settlements.
Land use policies which plan for an integrated network of transportation, services, neighborhoods, leisure activities and technology supports will greatly increase opportunities for persons with disabilities to be connected to and included in urban and suburban environments which are livable, diverse, and accessible.
The Importance of Transportation
- For a significant number of Michigan citizens, including those with disabilities, the absence of affordable, reliable, and accessible transportation is a major deterrent. Many transit-dependent individuals must rely upon public transportation services. These services need to be safe, seamless, affordable and universally accessible, if they are to be useful for individuals to get to medical care, employment shopping voting and participation in the life of their communities.
Almost half of the state’s counties (34 out of 83) still have little or no public transportation service. A stable public transportation funding base, supporting a statewide system of accessible transportation, is the key to reaching this goal.
- Transit agencies are facing reduced state funding and increased costs of services; we need to ensure transit agencies are provided with an adequate and reliable funding base. While state funding for public transportation has marginally increased in the last few years, funding for public transit systems is still inadequate and unpredictable from year to year.
Transit funding should be increased through Public Act 51 so that public transit’s share of the transportation budget is the full 10% allowed by the state constitution. It currently receives only 8.5% of transportation funding.
The State Legislature should implement House Bill 4153 of the 92nd Legislative Session which would capture the use tax on the lease of automobiles at the same rate the sales tax is captured on automobile sales. This would raise $20 million in funding for public transportation without implementing any new taxes.
- The State should increase the level of participation in local transit decision-making by those who use transportation service through increasing the powers and responsibilities of transit Local Advisory Councils. The State should explore other ways to ensure consumers have ready input into local transit decision
Strengthened Local Advisory Councils allowing more citizen input in local public transportation decisions will create better, more accountable transit systems throughout the state.
Statewide Accessible Transportation
- Michigan should pursue statewide accessible transportation by implementing the recent legislative mandate to the Department of Transportation to work with transit agencies and local units of government to assure statewide demand-response services and to address unmet transportation needs. This effort should include consideration of the need for interface among neighboring public transit systems to ensure regional mobility.
Another way to work for statewide public transit is through Transportation Vouchers, which are now being piloted through the Michigan Developmental Disabilities Council. Michigan should use Federal and State funds to fund voucher programs, thereby increasing transportation service and consumer choice.
- The State should continue to pursue improved coordination of transportation services through the United We Ride effort. Through this effort, all the State Departments involved in transportation services are taking concrete steps to improve coordination in the provision of transportation. We support this effort and encourage the Departments involved to give full support to this process.
Maximizing Federal Funding for Michigan
- Millions of dollars for transportation in Michigan are at stake. Michigan must effectively educate the Michigan Congressional Delegation about the issues of the reauthorization and, in particular, to the potential value of this Act to Michigan and its citizens. The Governor’s Washington, D.C. office must be effective in communicating with the Michigan Congressional Delegation.