A well-developed Public Transportation System contributes to significant economic growth and job opportunities. The Eastern States have been very successful. For the daily commute, people working in Manhattan or at Wall Street take a bus, train or a ferry and a bus. Michigan has failed to create an efficient Public Transportation system. Look at the job growth and economy of states that have an effective Public Transportation System and compare it to Michigan. The data is clear and we are far behind. We have not invested in commuter trains or an effective bus system to connect the suburbs to urban areas.

State of Michigan – Department of Transportation on their website highlight Public Transportation. It says “Affordable, Convenient, and Less Stressful. Sound Good? Get on the bus or train and rest your mind.” Additionally it says “Who rides the bus? If you’ve been on one lately, you’ve seen office workers, nurses, teachers, students and seniors. There’s also the bonus of a little bit of exercise before and after you take the bus” All of this sounds great and makes sense. But we do not have an effective Public Transportation system. The State performance on this issue is dismal failure. We are not connected in Oakland County. Some communities have SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation) and some don’t. Rochester Hills opts out. The demand for it is not limited to one or two people calling Rochester Hills city hall, and definitely it is not the case where nobody needs it. The assumption that there is no demand is a fallacy. It is lack of vision and ability to understand the benefits of a good Public Transportation system. There are many families and individuals who struggle with lack of transportation, which limits their ability to be mobile and to explore opportunities for growth. The Older Persons Commission (OPC) provides transportation to seniors on a call in basis. This is supported by a .25 millage. If OPC were to not have the service it would disrupt the daily living for many seniors.

32% of households in Rochester Hills have income less than $50,000 and 14% have income less than $25,000, while 52% of households have incomes above $75,000.

Public Transportation is not just for low income individuals. The entire community can benefit from it. I have been commuting to my job in Flint for 18 years and on many occasions have felt that it would be best if I could just ride a bus and not have to drive, especially when the gas prices were more than $4 a gallon, or during harsh winters. I even contacted Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) in Flint since their buses come to Great Lakes and Troy. Their response was they do not provide service for people coming from Oakland County. Although their buses drive completely empty. With gas prices at $2.40, today, I would love to ride a bus than drive my car. It would be relaxing, especially in this winter, and not be part of the traffic that is stalled on I-75 making my day longer than it needs to be.

So who would benefit from a Public Transportation system? I would say everyone. At minimum, people commuting to jobs from their home to another community, people who do not have the means to own and maintain a car, people wanting to ride the Trailways can hop on to the bus without driving their cars to the Trailways, catching a flight at Metro Detroit airport while going on a business trip or vacation or going to an Amtrak station without worrying about parking or trying to get a ride, and going to Detroit downtown to enjoy a game or a show or spend time at the DIA or DSO without worrying about parking, and connecting people to jobs in different communities thus addressing the shortage of work force. It would ease the traffic on our clogged up highways and make commute much more relaxing.It would give the option in bad weather or traffic times. Whether it is getting to a job or enjoying a day out with family the opportunities and benefits are limitless. The whole Public Transportation system creates many permanent jobs.

We need a regional Public transportation plan and every community should be integrated, thus contributing to economic growth of the region. It creates and provides opportunities for many. With changing demographics the millennials and the future generations are living in places where they can walk, bike or take a bus to work and be in places where they can go easily without the need to drive a car. We need to develop a long range plan that visions out the development of an integrated public transportation system that connects people and communities and start investing in it, if not for us then let us do it for our future generations.

Ravi Yalamanchi
Candidate for Mayor – Rochester Hills

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