Every day we encounter martyrs for the cause of mass transit. People
who might be healthy, alive, kept out of jail if only they had another
way to get from here to there. Our effort, as a body politic, is to
seek immediate help the Michigan legislature restore and expand the
$5 million Comprehensive Transportation Fund, now in jeopardy.
Consider first a wealthy Oakland County businessman, who declined
publishing his name. For countless years he contributed to Republican
coffers and civic charities. Then a guy with bad brakes crashed into
the businessman's car, causing a severe concussion and an upended
life without America's fifth freedom -- transportation.
He suffered such excruciating headaches he was unable to drive the
family Volvo or company truck. Instead he forked out $90 to take a
cab from home in Grosse Pointe to a church in Bloomfield Hills to
attend a funeral. He spends up to three hours trying to commute via
bus. All of us are riding on the mass need for transit, whether it
is because the car is in the shop, we're too drunk to drive tonight
or health prohibits driving.
Clinton Township insurance salesman, Robert W. Gallas, 47 will likely
spend the rest of his life wishing public transportation existed along
Romeo Plank Road in Clinton Township when he walked drunk out a bar
and stepped on the gas that fateful night in early February.
Driving home on an unlit street he killed 20 year old Ronald Young
of Hamtramck, thought he hit a tree branch and left the scene. He
injured Young's girlfriend, Sheerita Wilson and dragged the baby,
Deborah Young, for over a mile. The Hamtramck family got lost trying
to find a bus stop after visiting Young's father at Macomb County
By the grace of God the police found little Deborah and got her to
Children's Hospital in Detroit where she was released a week later.
Sheerita Wilson was also released to suffer the grief of her lost
lover. Gallas shares space in the same jail as Young's father, facing
charges of leaving the scene of an accident, two counts of drunken
driving causing a serious injury and one count of drunken driving
We understand hazards to mass transit in a cash-strapped economy.
Bear in mind, a light rail from downtown to Birmingham would cost
about $400 million, less than the price tag of widening I-75 through
south Oakland. The same effort would place us in league with thriving,
transit abundant cities like Boston, Seattle or Chicago and permanently
Once aboard a commuter train or ample bus system, we'd start communicating
with one another, city dweller, suburban dweller, rich and poor, black
and white. Looking at each other face to face, instead of speeding
by in our four-wheeled steel tubes.
None of us can restore the health of this benevolent executive, bring
back the life of Ronald Young or buy a cab fare for jailed Robert
Gallas. We can prevent the next tragedies from happening. We can build
a vital, connected society.
I urge you to act wisely.
- Maureen McDonald