Dreaming of Detroit

 

What’s good fam, I have the honor of writing my first post on the new site. I want to send a special thanks and appreciation to Garlin for doing all the behind the scenes work to make the new site possible. Please send us feedback and let us know what you think. Great work Garlin! So, in the spirit of the new site, I am inspired to share one of my dreams. As you know, I am a native Detroiter and one thing that has always fascinated me is the mass transit systems in cities like Chicago, D.C., and New York.For starters, there is a certain excitement I feel knowing that through mass transit, all types of people; white collar, blue collar, White, Black, Asian, Latino, inner-city and suburban are forced to interact with each other on a daily basis, even if nothing is said at all. This would be a huge step up in improving the damaged race relations in and around Detroit. And for context, I should note that Metro Detroit is the most racially segregated area in America.

In terms of economic development, I have yet to see a city with a mass transit system without boasting a bustling downtown and pedestrian friendly streets accented with local and national businesses.

Additionally, one thing that truly stifles Detroit residents is their over reliance on cars. Most people don’t truly have reliable transportation. In other words, if your car is in the shop, or you share a vehicle with family and friends, your ability to actually get to the work will be severely hampered. (Most jobs are often times located in the suburbs of Detroit) And for most people that do take the bus, many of them are low-income. As such, how much job security do you think you can get by claiming to your boss, “My bus came late.”

Another problem we have is the lack of an active night life. For starters, you have to drive to your night spot, which is problematic because so much effort goes into picking people up, decide how many cars to take, and before you know it, you just spent an hour traveling just to get to your intended location. Now you have to put up money for parking, which means you can never truly say, “I am going to go downtown to go club/lounge hopping.” When you are in Detroit, you go to one spot and you stay there all night in most cases. Who wants to put up $10 to $20 to park for each place they want to visit? But if we were to have mass transit, and people were smart about not charging a cover, people would have a much better time knowing that they could shop for a good time without breaking the bank.

This is to say nothing of the environment. Now I am not anti-car, (though I wish I didn’t need one) but ideally, it should be one of a number of reliable and safe forms of transportation. I know people in New York who use mass transit everyday to travel to and from work and only use their cars when they do big grocery shopping or otherwise need to load up big items. Detroit taking a step in this direction would go a long way to help reduce carbon emissions and help stop global warming.

Barriers

The problem is that thanks to the brilliance of the Big Three, they made sure it was really easy for people to purchase a car that either worked for the Big Three or knows someone that does, which is pretty much everybody. And what better way to support this model by using your political muscle to make sure the roads were constructed in a way that favored automobiles over mass transit?

A lawyer friend of mine told me that it would take about 3 billion dollars to get an adequate light rail system set up that went between Detroit and Ann Arbor. As you can imagine, with the Michigan economy in shambles and the death kiss of raising taxes for anything, you can guess the likelihood of that happening.

I still have hope however and one of my dreams is to be part of the push for mass transit in Detroit. I can see it now, “Motown on the Move.”

I am open to any and all suggestions,

For a report on commuting in Detroit, click here.

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.

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4 responses to “Dreaming of Detroit”

  1. Sen says :

    Hey Brandon, after reading your article, I talked about it with my coworker, who brought up a good point. Not only do GM, Ford, and DCX throw their weight around politically to stop large scale mass transit plans, their stranglehold on the SE Michigan workforce/economy causes just as much of a burden. Because of the city’s financial decline, they’d need capital from not only public sources but from Companies that would stand to benefit. Which businesses have the most money in Detroit? You guessed it.

    I don’t see Mass Transit coming anytime soon, and that saddens me as a proponent for it. But the economy might crumble too, as the Big Three’s bread and butter is the state of Michigan.

  2. Dumi says :

    Mass transit will truly be a key to a resurrected Detroit. I think Kwame’s first attempt at Darta was a beginning, but it will take sustained advocacy and collaboration within the city and between the city and burbs. Because the D is so decentralized it would be difficult to sell within city system, instead we’d probably need something that had extensive suburban rails and well planned city stops. This of course will mandate addressing the tensions, both race and class, between these areas less it dissolve into more NIMBYism (Not in my back yard).

  3. Brandon Q. says :

    Sen, I appreciate your talking about this article with your co worker. It is true, the Big Three does have a stranglehold on Michigan’s economy but as our economy diversifies, there will be more and more businesses and political leaders will hopefully see and push for the added value that mass transit can provide.

    Keep hope alive my friend,

    Brandon

  4. Brandon Q. says :

    Dumi, your points are well taken and I think one crucial road block to mass transit are the outstanding issues (clearly related to race and class) between the counties of Oakland, Wayne, and Macomb. And I agree that there will have to be substantial suburban routes and stops for mass transit to be politically feasible.

    And as for the issues of race and class, I am happy that your media contributions are helping to break the racial deadlock,

    Thanks for the comment,

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