The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) convened a panel of highly experienced transit experts from around the country to advise Southeastern Michigan leaders on ways to create a 21st-Century public transit system.
While much of the two-day meeting's focus will be on Detroit's planned Woodward Avenue light rail system, the panel will also share insights on how area leaders can work together to develop a larger vision for future public transportation development.
Each of the five members of the Detroit Area Transit Panel — John Inglish, CEO of the Utah Transit Authority; Cal Marsella, former GM/CEO of the Denver Regional Transit District; Neil McFarlane, GM of Portland, Ore.-based TriMet; Dr. Beverly Scott, CEO at the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority; and Gary Thomas, president/executive director of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) — were selected by the FTA and have an industry-renowned record of achievement in creating or expanding rail transit in their own cities.
The panel will host workshops for regional transportation stakeholders and meet one-on-one with several key statewide, city, and local officials to learn firsthand the unique challenges and opportunities of implementing rail transit in the Detroit metropolitan area.
Specifically, the panel will meet with City of Detroit officials, senior staff of the office of Gov. Rick Snyder, State of Michigan Department of Transportation officials, the County Executives of the greater-Detroit region, M1 Rail and the Southeast Michigan Area Regional Transportation.
In February 2010, Detroit was awarded $25 million from the Department's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program for the first phase of the proposed Woodward Avenue light rail line — a 3.4-mile rail system connecting Downtown Detroit to the New Center district along the region's main artery on Woodward Avenue.
The creation of the Detroit Area Transit Panel aligns with the Obama Administration's July announcement of a new and customized pilot initiative, "Strong Cities, Strong Communities," which is a new interagency pilot initiative that aims to strengthen neighborhoods, towns, cities and regions around the country by strengthening the capacity of local governments to develop and execute their economic vision and strategies.