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Detroit Far Behind International Cities in Public Transportation Development

City Bus End Profiles

There’s a recent trend among local youths of shouting the popular hip-hop phrase, “Detroit vs. Everybody.” When it comes to public transportation, maybe it’s time the city starts borrowing a few ideas from “everybody” instead of blindly shunning them.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Robin Boyle, the long-time chair of urban planning at Wayne State University, has a few ideas about how Detroit can catch up with the rest of the world when it comes to public transportation.

Boyle recently traveled abroad, noting how advanced the public transportation systems are in places like the Ruhr Valley of Germany and Melbourne, Australia.

Investing in quality public transportation does a lot more than get you from one place to the other. By committing to a combination of public transit and private vehicles, the Ruhr Valley has seen tremendous growth, and Melbourne recently ranked as the most livable city in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual global livability index.

“I can tell you it was seamless,” Boyle said of traveling around the Ruhr Valley area. “You could go from one end of the Ruhr to the other on public transport. You’re moving through different communities but you wouldn’t know it. And if you get off the train, it doesn’t matter, you can just get on another.”

A revival in public transportation could help to solve Detroit’s financial woes. Transportation is one of the world’s largest industries, and includes trains, buses, taxis, trucks, and logistics services.

It’s also useful for more than economic revival. Both the Ruhr Valley and Melbourne’s public transportation system includes bicycle and walking paths, which contribute to a healthy community by promoting exercise and limiting harmful chemical emissions.

“Everywhere you went the first thing you saw was a big map beside the bus station or the train station…so you could work out how to walk everywhere you went. We could walk literally everywhere,” Boyle said.

Boyle believes the process of achieving that level of connected public transportation requires a combination of civic leaders supporting and funding the projects, and the Detroit community buying in to the concept of efficient public transit.

Then again, Eminem could always just make a song about it. That seems to work pretty well.

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