Last August, my wife accepted a job in Bloomfield Hills. Since then, I have commuted between Chicago and Detroit, trying to find employment and trying to understand how one lives in Bloomfield Hills without a car. In Illinois, I use a bicycle and public transportation. I have also lived and worked in Paris, where I did not own a car.
I have contacted the mayor of Bloomfield Hills several times to learn how to get to the grocery store with my bicycle or if there are plans for public transportation in our town. I find I am blown off the road by passing vehicles when I use my bicycle. Thus, in my latest letter to the mayor, I ask for police protection.
However, the only real solution is good public transportation, as you point out clearly in your article "Road to rail" (MT, Feb. 21-27). —Robert Crane, Ph.D., firstname.lastname@example.org, Bloomfield Hills
I am happy that attention is again being focused on Michigan being completely inept in terms of mass transit. But I am afraid that we are destined to remain a gridlocked, potholed expanse of concrete. We are, after all, the "Motor City." Wouldn't it be something akin to political suicide to do anything that might jeopardize our dependence on cars?
The powers that be in Michigan would have you believe that mass transit is some sort of liberal plot to derail the auto industry. Ridiculous. If one ignores the obvious environmental issues and just focuses on the issue of time spent, there is an argument for mass transit. My wife and I work downtown. We ride together because we both hate to drive. This way, one of us can do something useful while the other one wastes their time dodging potholes. I would love to get on a train, fire up my notebook computer and use my time as I please. —William Carter, Macomb Twp.
Show me the money
I don't think that Michigan will ever have a satisfactory transportation system. If the governments involved can't even handle the bus systems that they have now, what makes them think they could even consider a rail system? Unless their system is privatized I see no way that they could pull this off. It seems to me that the transportation funds are being siphoned off or mismanaged at some level. The buses that are in use now are falling apart, are not handicapper-friendly and are constantly in the garages for service. The buses are not on time and are not being used in areas that could utilize them to their best advantage. Where has the money gone? If these repairs were handled on a per-case basis, they wouldn't have the problem of having to repair or replace their vehicles all at one time. —Elaine Cocozzoli, Meandden2@aol.com, Troy
Know thine enemy
Those opposed to mass transit are the same forces that can make or break any champion you crown. Does traditional media want mass transit? We now watch lame "news" shows to see the traffic and accidents. Radio depends on your drive-time to listen to its drivel. Do its advertisers want mass transit? How about car advertisers on TV, radio, in newspapers and on billboards? Do they want it? Taxpayers now pay through the nose for roads that may never be completed. Add in the countless crumbling bridges now needing repair. Chances are the same contractors who did a lousy job on the roads will be building the mass-transit system, if politicians have their way.
Taxpayers may believe nobody will use mass transit because of inconvenience or fear — so they will be paying for two systems instead of just one. Suburbanites may not want Detroiters coming into their areas for racist reasons. I don't think suburbanites will support a truly metro system if it involves treating Detroiters fairly. We may put aside these fears if your champion is sincere and honest. How to get the media, taxpayers, and suburbanites all in the same room on this important make-or-break issue for our economic and social future? That's up to your champion to figure out. —Roy M. Stoliker, Hamtramck
Learning from others
The Metro Times has once again shown its on-target commitment to the real needs of metro Detroit with its series on mass transit. We need to take our cues from cities who understand and appreciate the benefits of public transportation. A strong public mandate for mass transit is difficult to develop in a metropolitan area which has for so long denied the existence of transportation options. Education is a key to unlocking our ignorance and it must be done now. The Metro Times is taking a bold step in bringing transit issues to its readership, which I see as the younger generations who will help shape our future.
My own baby-boomer generation had better start thinking seriously about supporting the issue also, or we will find ourselves in the future sitting in our houses with no driver's license, no viable transit service and lots of places we would like to go. This is a depressing thought. —Michael Whims, Commerce Twp.
Last week’s cover photo of Slum Village was by Doug Coombe.