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A budget proposal by the Trump administration may be the final blow to plans for a regional mass transit system for southeast Michigan. A proposed Regional Transit Authority (RTA) millage failed in November 2016, when voters in Oakland and Macomb counties rejected the four-county millage, while passing in Wayne and Washtenaw counties. Deal was, it had to win in three of the four. The RTA announced in March that it had released CEO Michael Ford, who was recruited in October 2014 to develop a regional transportation plan that would win voter approval. Meanwhile, Trump’s budget proposal calls for slashing future transit funding from the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program for transportation projects that don’t already have a funding agreement in place. The budget proposal means transit plans not already moving forward aren’t likely to receive federal funding in the future, which could include future proposals by the RTA. Despite the new roadblock, Tiffany Gunter, interim CEO for the RTA, said the wheels haven’t fallen off the authority’s plans for bringing mass transit to the region. “It’s a good opportunity to know how those programs will be dealt with going forward,” she said. “In terms of timing and knowing what we are dealing with and being able to address reality, it is good for us to know that now.” For what the RTA lacks in funds, it may make up for in optimism, as more than 20 failed attempts at a regional transit system continue to go round and round, all through the towns. “The good news was, in our planning, we didn’t rely heavily on the federal share in some of our programs,” Gunter said. “Knowing that New Starts was highly competitive already, we were pretty conservative in our estimates. We would have had to scale back, but not stop the plans from moving forward.”


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