Newly installed Oakland County Executive David Coulter is wasting little time distinguishing himself from his predecessor. He recently told the Free Press editorial board he'd like to see another try at a regional transit plan on the 2020 ballot.
It's about quality of life for Oakland residents as much as it is about economic development.
"People want other mobility options," Coulter said Wednesday during a meeting with the Free Press editorial board. "We listen to millennials and people that we are trying to recruit to our area; and we're listening to the things that they say are important and transit is on that list — always. So if we're going to be competitive in the long term, we need to have transit."
But they also need "the right plan," Coulter said.
Coulter indicated if metro Detroit's Big Four leaders or more can't come up with the right plan, he'd rather wait a year or two and get the plan right.
"But my fear is if we don't do it in 2020, then it'll be another four years or more before we get another bite at the apple, and we just can't afford that in my view," Coulter said.
Coulter's predecessor, L. Brooks Patterson, was never fully on board with regional transit, and neither is Mark Hackel, his counterpart in Macomb County. Both backed a 2018 renewal of a millage for SMART, the regional bus system, but balked at a 1.2-mill proposal two years earlier that would have raised more money to expand and improve transit throughout the four-county area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw.