Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mount Pleasant Should Model San Diego Public Transit Systems

Upon returning from the San Diego area, I realized that rather then it just being colder here; the San Diego area had one of the best transit systems that I have ever utilized in an urban area. I have traveled to many cities like Chicago, Boston, and New York where I have used many different transit systems. I found though, that the San Diego area arguably has one of the best transit systems in the country. Using the coaster, trolley, or propane powered bus to transport people, the system was very
efficient and effective in moving citizens all over southern California.

The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System or MTS highlights that public transit can provide numerous benefits for the environment and help eliminate the high costs of owning and operating a personal vehicle. The following facts are some examples of how Public Transit can be a “smart move.”

• A typical family can save more than $6,000 per year if just one person uses public transportation.
• Saving one gallon of gas eliminates 19 pounds of carbon emissions.
• Public transportation produces 95% less carbon monoxide for every passenger mile traveled.
• Annually, in the United States, public transit saves more than 855 million gallons of gasoline or about 45 million barrels of oil which is equal to about one month of oil imports from Saudi Arabia.
• In 2006, there were 10.1 billion trips taken on public transportation, the highest in 49 years.
• Compared to private vehicles, public transportation produces nearly 50 percent less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide per passenger mile.
• U.S. public transportation systems save 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline every year, the equivalent of 108 million cars filling up in a year.
• The Federal Transportation Administration values the aggregate benefits from transit related congestion relief provided by Public Transit at $19.4 Billion annually.

Michigan is far behind other states in modernizing transit systems that are effective in distributing workers, families, and citizens to various areas within towns and cities. A healthy transit system (besides just busses) can bring commerce to Michigan’s urban areas and districts. Thinking locally I came up with a model idea that would help describe the utility of a short trolley system right here in Mt. Pleasant.

If the City could harness some type of state bond or the money needed to create a small trolley, it could functionally transport people from the CMU campus to the downtown business district. Its benefits would be plenty. Some of these benefits would include bringing more business and activity to the downtown area, reducing the dangers of drinking and driving activity, the encouragement of conservation of fossil fuels, a creation of a number of jobs for the city, incremental building of tax revenue based on user fees, and the establishment of an attractive model system for other towns and cities in Michigan. As a major accredited college institution in this state, Central Michigan could seriously show how transit modernization is possible. A project that could make our engineering department shine cooperatively with the city and the state.

So visualize a colorful short trolley ride from the campus to the downtown business district filled with small shops night life and interesting attractions. All just a five minute ride from campus. The city should consider such a dream.

-Andrew Thibodeau
Political Advisor for the ICDP

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