It is time to publish…today it’s about recovery & +…

maps of system options * yellow areas are self driving *some details of supported system in left corner
maps of system options * yellow areas are self driving
*some details of supported system in left corner

In May I lost the ability to draw maps in Google Maps. My computer is from 2006 and only has 1.25GB of memory. I think the latest browsers require about 4GB. I had also lost the ability to access the 134 maps that I had drawn. To compound matters I went in for a hernia operation and when I healed from that I broke my kneecap. Then in June there was a transportation meeting in Port Austin and with 4 weeks of kneecap recovery I went. When I got back I spent several days going to other transit events and a party where I slipped and broke my kneecap again.

I have spent the last eight weeks recovering from that and the removal (a month ago) of ten screws in my knee and ankle. In the meantime I took a loan to live on and received an iPad from my father, so I can now access maps. The confusing part is that most of the written words are on on my desktop, so I am stuck emailing myself in order to compose another email with a map. (or compose a blog post…)

Just before I lost access to the 134 maps I made a KMZ file ( Farms, forest _ parks.kmz ) of many of them. What I expected was file of each one but as I opened them they added to each other. What I ended up with is a file that includes some long transit runs and some other cities such as Las Vegas and Davisburg, CA. This opens up in Google Earth and seems to have only self driving areas…

The KMZ map includes self driving shaded areas, train, bus and carriers. The other maps that I’m including give a representation of carrier lines that I would like to see as part of our Detroit Metro.

Farms, forest _ parks.kmz (do think it will work)

There is even a sorting out field of the internet now. I can get Google to do a download once! There afterward I can download an image to G+…( see my google plus profile to see the latest map-done today)

Given the fact that there has been much discussion on Atlanta and Barcelona being the same population but Atlanta is much larger, I question the use of Barcelona’s transit system in the U.S. Detroit can be the catalyst for the suburban model.

In order to do that there needs to be a way of defining roadways to get people around. Some of these are shown in the map of the RTA of Southeast Michigan showing routes of travel along Michigan Ave. There needs to be a clear means of designating roads other then M- roads as travel destinations. Some roads will need areas were buses/trains/carriers get a green light instead of a red. Some roads might be in electrical transmission routes or along rivers or though vacant properties…

Take a look at the maps I have provided…without comment or do…


Proposal 1 … win or lose is still a win …

So Proposal 1 is due to fail. At least that is the take I have on it. There is no other plan so expect a few years to come up with one. In the meantime New York has a 42 cent tax on gas, we have 19 cents. With Proposal 1 we would go down to about 13 cents and increase the wholesale tax on gas.
This is a complicated proposal that seems to take in some of the concerns that modern transit is taking. Cars are getting a lot more fuel efficient and some are even skipping gas altogether. For reasons like this another form of paying for roads is necessary. Taking a major portion of a 1% sales tax makes sense.
I might not understand all of the features in this proposal but it seems to give us more money for roads. Yes it might mean $500 plus for 60% of the families and it might increase the number from 20% to 40% that will not be paying, but money is going to come from somewhere. For the population making 30 to 56K the cost would be $180 to $275. I do have friends that would be paying $13,000 but they are not in the normal range of people that make a living.
There is something about change that scares people. This is a change that is coming but how we deal with it might have some unexpected consequences. I would expect some corporation will come in in 5 to 10 years and purchase rights to roadways. Toll roads will be common. Other providers will provide taxi, bus and other services to get around roads. Travel will cost more to get were you want to go. Roads will be repaired but brides will close.
It is the idea that there there is no money, but we must keep our roads.
If we do not do something that will change the means of road construction that relates to the modern world others will (and have) take(n) over. Michigan is one of the first states to propose something of the nature of Proposal 1 and I think that is why it is so scary.
Why do I hope that this Proposal fails? Because I think it might be the opportunity to put in a system of transportation that will make money and get people where they need to go. Lets go back in time and all we needed were our legs to get anywhere. Most likely that was limited but it could also be far (2000 to ? miles). The tale goes on until we can travel massive distances in our lifetime. We like going places and we will continue to do so. If we walk or ride a bike we might go three miles. If we drive a car we might go 30 miles. If we hop on a train or plane we might go 500 miles. Mostly we go 30 miles or less.
The places we go in 30 miles or less is confined by location. If there are mountains the 30 mile route might be limited to 3 locations if there are no mountains it might be 5 plus locations. There are many possibilities for an enterprise to provide such a service. Other than military applications there is little incentive for government  to provide transportation services. In fact the main objective of the highway system was movement of large cargo related to military.
Lets see if the 43% of federal taxes can support the highway system and allow private ventures, see if they can run a transportation system that works. Suppose that truckers paid a fee to the Highway system and cars that ran on it also paid a hefty fee. State roads were also fee rated. Local roads were fee rated and some of them not. These that were not were locally taxed.
If there was no Proposal 1 vote in the approval I suspect that within 2 to 10 years something like this might be a reality.
I would welcome something of this nature. I would welcome firms that took on getting people around. I would welcome the government sustaining roads that moved goods and welcomed people paying to drive them.
Do we want to support some of the prospects with public dollars?…vote for Proposal 1…it will be a start…you will have the opportunity to fund or not to fund…it might be interesting. Yes a certain amount will go to public transit (that might be rail, bus or pod car), yes a certain amount will go to education and a certain amount will go to locals to support a variety of efforts.
Heck I think it makes sense. It makes  a lot more sense than paying 23 to 42%, we might pay about 20% to 25% and we will have the option of control This is better than the 42% that New York pays…it is about what Ohio pays, just a new form of the roadway taxes, making them more equal.
Proposal 1 means more money for roads, yes it means less money from poorer people but they are not getting anything near what the 1% is. They are not getting thing near what the 10% does, and they are getting a lot less than the middle 30 to 65K dose.
I don’t care if you vote for or against Proposal 1. I will still make money on your vote. If you vote to approve Proposal 1 I think I’ll see funding for rail studies as well as road improvements. I think I’ll see private investors involved in rail as well as bus ventures. If you vote it down I think I’ll see a lot of private investors interested in roads. And I think I’ll see a few investors  interested in other means of transit. It might be a little more or a little less to travel!
Vote to keep a public means of traveling. This seems to be a way of doing it (Proposal 1).
“… you have paid $4.00 to the state, but not even half
is going to get better roads for your
traveling pleasure.”

Todays meeting with Dan Dirks

Motor City Freedom Riders
Meeting with Dan Dirks, Director, Detroit Department of Transportation
Friday, November 21, 2014, 1 pm
DDOT headquarters, 1301 E. Warren, Detroit

Attending (Motor City Freedom Riders): Regina Dubose, Glenn Maxwell, Sean McAde, Gery Perkowski, Patti Fedewa, Anna Holden, Pat Hammer, Joel Batterman

Attending (DDOT): Dan Dirks (Director), Larry Lockett (Maintenance), Triette Reeves (External Relations), Bernadette

Main ask: can bus pullout information (actual and scheduled buses leaving garages) be made publicly available on Mayor Duggan’s Detroit Dashboard, so the public can be aware of the progress being made?

Dirks said he would ask concerning the Detroit Dashboard, which is not within his control. He said that he would get the information on the DDOT website by the first week of December.

Basic Performance

Pullout (buses leaving garage) has been increasing. “We started with 145.” It’s now in the 173-174 range (of 188) in the morning period, and 200 (of 229) in the afternoon. Revenue has been up 5 months in a row.

Fleet Size and Maintenance

The FTA allows a 20% maintenance reserve, which means DDOT is allowed to have 275 buses, but DDOT has petitioned the feds to have 300 for the time being. Eventual goal for fleet size is 275. 79 buses are currently being auctioned, with all funding reinvested in the DDOT capital fund.

31 new buses will arrive just before Christmas, and will become operational next year. “Ladders to Opportunity” grant, subject of press conference in September, will include 59 buses, including 10 articulated (accordion-style) buses. Mayor didn’t go three days without calling VP Biden or FTA about the buses.

New maintenance monitoring system went live.

Employee Relations and Training

ATU drivers voted down the proposed contract; they were concerned mechanics would get something better, and also took issue with tighter regulation of preventable accidents (currently, drivers are permitted 2 every year). Back to negotiation.

Driver hiring has been slow. Have hired 35, but lost 50. “You name it, we’ve tried it,” but despite outreach, low pay is a problem. Drivers get $8.57/hour for two-month training period, then start at $11.63, several dollars lower than SMART. “We’re going after money any which way that we can.”

DDOT is applying for grant for 2 new driver simulators.

Negotiations with AFSCME mechanics begin soon. Completed frontline training with federal funding.

Dispatchers move in to the Warren headquarters building from their current location on Dec. 19. Should have positive effect on the “bus bunching” problem.

Long-term Goals

Problem: even once buses are running as scheduled, there still won’t be enough service. “Even when service gets stabilized, there’s not enough service…Even when we get full tilt, we’re not gonna have enough buses.” DDOT had 350 buses operating before the 2012 cuts. Dirks wants to expand service by at least 80 buses.

Dirks met with Christ Watton, DDOT director under Mayor Young, who said that even then, DDOT couldn’t make pullout M-Tu-Wed. “It’s been that way forever.” Management needs its prerogatives in contract.

State and Regional Issues

Transportation funding bills are on the table in Lansing. Duggan got in an amendment in Michigan Senate’s gas tax bill, allowingDetroit to flex 50% of its road funds to transit. However, House is less sympathetic to transit, and representatives need to hear from constituents about the need for funding transit, not just roads. Get in calls, letters to editor.

Dirks continues to advocate for restoring SMART service to Detroit and allowing full SMART service in the city. “I might live in Macomb, but I’m a Detroiter.”

Dirks was supposed to lunch with Michael Ford, RTA CEO, today. Has shared concerns about lack of representation for Detroit in RTA: 60% of total transit ridership in region, and only 1 vote, compared to Washtenaw County’s 2 votes. Mayor has expressed strong concern. “I’ve made some very intense suggestions relative to outreach that the RTA hopes to do.” The date of the 2016 transit election won’t change, and “a sense of urgency needs to be developed.”

And tell SMART to bring back buses on RTA corridors…

Tell SMART’s
Board of Directors:
Three Years is Long Enough.
Let’s Bring Back the Buses!

In December 2011, the SMART bus system eliminated nearly one-quarter of all bus service, including all service inside Detroit city limits outside weekday rush hour, due to declining tax revenue.

These cuts to regional transit service led many people to lose their jobs, and have led others to spend hours waiting in the cold and dark.

In August, citizens gave an additional $28 million
for SMART to keep rolling. We believe a portion of that money should go towards bringing back some of the service we’ve lost, especially on Woodward, Gratiot, and Michigan Avenues – the priority routes for the Regional Transit Authority (RTA).

Afternoon Vigil for SMART Bus Service
Thursday, December 4, 2014, 1-3 pm
SMART offices, Buhl Building, 535 Griswold
1 pm – vigil outside building
2 pm – SMART Board Meeting, 5th floor

Motor City Freedom Riders

I just could not think of another way to present this info to you so you got it on a blog post. Dan Dirks responded first then Joel.

Wow! It did not go as I thought…

I want a private transportation system.

I met this morning with Dan Dirks of DDOT and that reinforced my conviction that it is at least worth considering. Detroit area has five government transit agencies, AATA, SMART, DDOT, the People Mover and the Regional Transit Authority and none of them have a good relationship of working together. There is also M-1 Rail which is a public-private concern as well as Amtrak.

Most other regions of the country at least have a regional transit authority that controls a combination of transit concerns. Some operate very successfully and some do not, but Detroit region has just enacted one and I don’t think it chances are very good.

What I got out of the meeting before, during and after the meeting this morning included things such as:
*DDOT in 2000 ran 450 buses with a budget of 170 million, today it struggles to put 175 buses on the roads with a budget of 130 million.
*There are significant factors which are causing delays in getting everything from parts, employee retention and buses.
*There have been many directors of DDOT since 2000 and the current director does not plan on being there for five years.
*The city and DDOT need to reconfigure bus routes but how does that happen? With input from residence, or from what we have in current data? Most likely from transit users and that is going to be a factor in costs and studies (more).
*Some people say that a director should have a plan with specific dates on a time line. I agree but I say that the regulations are hindering it from happening and that the time frame is longer than these people want.
*There needs to be a multi layered approach to having a secure team in place that will carry DDOT though and beyond. (But also there needs to be in place a process that ensures the other agencies in metro Detroit also have a plan.) (Will this transpire?)
*There are changes in place that will allow buses to be redirected but it is a slow process and one which requires attention of a lot of people.
*There are 25% of the employees (some as young as 48) that are eligible to retire now, and if they don’t they will not be eligible until they are 62. (Changes for younger workers?)
*Cameras are being looked at for all buses but will they really be on them by this fall…?
*Cameras are being looked at on light poles especially around schools but as Ira pointed out there are cameras in some of the light fixtures that might also be used. Was the presentation by the manufactures of the systems?

I just think the time is ripe for metro Detroit to add a private system to the mixup of the multiple agencies that make up transit and to show that another system might work. We are the last area of the country that is so scattered as far as transit. It just might work and I think it will. There are a number of organizations such as the Center for Neighborhood Technology that have done studies that can be used to form the backbone of such a system. I am sure that there are other studies that have been done concerning Washtenaw, Livingston, Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties that can be incorporated.

Transit funding is a complicated mess. The federal laws say that only United States can provide the tools for transit programs that receive federal funds, except… That exception applies to 20% of the materials from what I gather and that is a lot. The United States does not make any measuring gauges for the distance spacing of rail road tracks for instance. Every one of these items must go through an often lengthy process to get approved.

Different localities access funds from a variety of sources. The city of Detroit uses general funds to fund transit. SMART bills .59 mils to a homeowner and AATA bills homeowners I believe 3 mils. AATA is better than SMART and much better than DDOT. Funding matters. These systems all rely on federal funds for some of their operational costs as well.

I recently saw a photo of a barge load of nine diesel locomotives produced in the United States going to Africa. What if they were nine streetcars going from Europe to the United States? No,it would not happen if federal dollars were involved in any part of the transit construction plan. California recently did a bridge project that shipped the bridge from China, but they did not use any federal funding and they saved millions.

I have an acquaintance in Europe that I think has a program that spaces pod cars very well. I also have a person in the United States that I think is on the right track to provide a maglev system, but I am unsure of his ability to schedule them. Can the two work together in the United States? No, not with federal funding. A system that can combine the technologies from different countries is an opportunity to consider in metro Detroit, an area that uses only 25% of the transit that Seattle does.

I mention Seattle because it has a similar population to metro Detroit. It has a regional transit authority and uses different funding mechanisms than metro Detroit.

Detroit area is prime for a private system that might use the Regional Transit Authority to secure some of its routes. The time is now and I am working on it. Regina stated at the last meeting of the DDOT MOSES meeting that transit should be above the streets and I agree. It is all the more important that the streets of Detroit proper are desolate at this time in history. An overhead system would be less of a factor as Detroit develops again.

I would like to put together a system for metro Detroit, and I need support in establishing a framework of doing so. The lawyer that I have in mind for establishing an LLT is  David Joswick

Drop me a line a michwood (at) msn (dot) com if you are interested in helping and I’ll get back to you on my proposal.


W. Sean McAde

Metro Detroit 2040

I missed the presentation by Dr. Joe Grengs, a professor of transportation planning at the University of Michigan. When I got there another person was talking. Shortly after Joel Batterman of the Suburbs Alliance broke everyone into table groups. There seemed to be a piece of paper that outlined what we should be discussing, concerning the widening of I-94 and/or taking a look at public transit.

One woman that was speaking did mention that it was possible to take another look at the proposal but that it would be difficult.

Robert Prud’Homme (TRU’s VP) gave a speech about how roads that get expanded fill up and then Joe Grengs proceeded to explain about the variety of reasons for this.

The breakdown for the cost amounts to 12% for Detroit which is 70 million dollars and that amount is unlikely to be contributed. I never did get a sense of where the federal and state dollars will be coming from but from past reading I get the idea that it will be difficult. In the meantime I-94 has to conform to plan that is laid out. Right now there was 30 million the state had and I assume it is going into the exit ramps at Grand Blvd. and Van Dyke. Maybe MDOT did cover Detroit’s 3 1/2 million this time but 70 million?

I will discuss my feelings about table groups later…

You might want to see Gus Burns article