Freshwater Railway

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Regional Transit Organization

RTA legislation is one piece of the transit puzzle. What about the thousands of other pieces?

The Challenge

For transit to improve, all opportunities, challenges and decisions are hinging on a single act: the creation of a regional transit authority.

How long will it take to approve the RTA, secure funding for it, and implement meaningful improvements? What if one step in that process slips off-course?

Our Solution

It's time to make alternative plans. Better yet, to take a decisive first step toward improving transit.

We propose to create an "RTO" – a regional transit organization. It's not an official authority, but it can begin to do the critical work that just can't wait any longer.

The RTO will be a professional organization to jump-start transit solutions. It can develop key components of a transit system: detailed research, efficient operations, credible plans, integrated visions. When appropriate, components can be passed off to a formal RTA. Absent that, existing private and public entities can buy directly into RTO projects.

The RTO brings some essential ingredients to the table:

These resources are available right now. We, as a region, would be smart to take advantage of them – with or without an RTA.


None. This is uncharted territory. In other metropolitan areas, at least one public entity takes an active role in developing transit services.

In Southeast Michigan, a number of agencies have a stake in transit. Currently, none is assembling comprehensive strategies to actually improve transit.

The closest comparison for the RTO is Data Driven Detroit. D3 has taken a forward-looking approach to problem-solving. Their materials have fueled a variety of positive efforts. We intend to strengthen the transit effort with similarly technical content.

Next Steps

Align transit professionals. Confer with pro-RTA officials to identify essential goals for regional transit. Document best-practices around the transit industry – both at the advocacy level and the operational level – and integrate them into the RTO business plan. Seek grants to fund the effort for two years.

We at Freshwater Railway are prepared to guide the development of the RTO. As with our other proposals, we cannot do it alone.

Help us build the case for professional, practical transit content. It will lead Southeast Michigan to bridge the gap between concept and reality.

To prove the feasibility of our concepts, we've produced numerous technical documents. With limited time and no funding, we have not included technical documents on our website at this time. Please contact us – we are happy to share and discuss our findings in greater detail.