Op-Ed: OU President calls to Support the Regional Master Transit Plan

Op-Ed: Oakland University’s President calls to Support the Regional Master Transit Plan

By George W. Hynd, President, Oakland University

At Oakland University, we take pride in the fact that our more than 20,000 students have access to many unique and diverse life experiences. Whether close to campus or throughout the Southeast Michigan region, undergraduate and graduate students alike can engage in countless employment, cultural and entertainment activities.

Unfortunately, taking advantage of many of these opportunities requires the use of some form of transportation. Some of our students are without cars and, as a result, are disconnected from a majority of regional destinations. The disjointed regional transit network now in place simply does not serve them.

Southeast Michigan is an employment and cultural hotbed. Business enterprises here range from Fortune 500 companies to family businesses to new and exciting startups. These organizations provide outstanding internship, co-op and public service opportunities. They are only beneficial, however, if our students can get to them.

Approximately 92 percent of jobs in the region cannot be reached within 60 minutes by utilizing regional public transit. Our students strive and sacrifice daily to pursue their career goals, and we cannot afford to allow a lack of public transit to be the reason they are unable to get an internship or secure employment.

Read Rochester Media Coverage of the Regional Transit Authority Master Plan Summary with VIDEO

As a regional community, we need to keep in mind that it is not only students who suffer, but also business and industry as a whole. Student immobility means that employers are left with limited talent pools when looking to fill key positions.

Likewise, the region’s cultural, entertainment and hospitality industries suffer. For example, students, senior citizens, people with disabilities and others would love to go to a Tiger’s game, concert or park but lack transportation. Opportunities like these are abundant, but many find themselves without the means to get there. Hence, both the community and regional commerce suffer.

Young people want high-quality, reliable regional public transit. If we do not address existing system inadequacies, some in today’s generation that might one day lead Southeast Michigan will continue to move to Chicago, Cleveland, Seattle or other cities that meet their transportation needs.

OU President George Hynd

OU President George Hynd

We have an opportunity to help reverse a talent drain and improve opportunities for our young people thanks to the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan’s Regional Master Transit Plan. This plan will allow us to improve regional economic vitality and quality of life by reconfiguring a disjointed regional public transit system that has stifled Southeast Michigan for far too long.

We cannot leave Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties disconnected. Our students and many others depend on regional public transit to take advantage of opportunities while attending school, pursuing careers and seeking experiences that contribute to a rich and rewarding lifestyle. High-quality regional public transit benefits everyone, and I encourage you to learn more about the plan at www.rtamichigan.org/masterplan.

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