BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY
Published June 3, 2012
As the University’s 2012 graduating class prepares for life after graduation, many of them will leave Michigan. This eagerness to get out of the state altogether often stems from the fear that our state has nothing to offer college graduates. Many students don’t see the state of Michigan beyond the confines of Ann Arbor despite the fact that Detroit, one of America’s most historic and important cities, is only a short drive away. The state of Michigan needs to prioritize the proposal that Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D–Mich.) made for commuter rail services between Detroit and Ann Arbor to unite the two cities and spur valuable interaction.
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At the 2012 Mackinac Policy Conference, Sen. Debbie Stabenow discussed her proposal to create a commuter rail service from Ann Arbor to the Detroit Metro Airport and downtown Detroit. She argued, “Michigan is in dire need of a transportation and infrastructure overhaul.” Stabenow’s plan to build a commuter rail service from Ann Arbor to Detroit has been discussed in Congress for some time now, but according to Stabenow, “That’s moving along slower than I would like.” Stabenow’s challengers to her Senate seat argue that this proposal would need significant private backing for it to come to fruition.
Ann Arbor has a major shortage of available parking, so many students don’t have the option of bringing their cars to campus. Some students don’t have any form of motorized transportation and find themselves limited to Ann Arbor, despite Detroit being a short 45 minutes away. Lawmakers need to understand that there are numerous benefits for students who visit Detroit.
Detroit is a vibrant and culturally rich city, but the shadow of the recession makes many students unwilling to visit. Comerica Park, Ford Field and Joe Louis Arena ignite with activity on game nights and young artists who moved to Detroit because of its exceptionally low cost of living have breathed new life into the city, giving it an entirely new identity. The University has taken a step in the right direction with its Semester in Detroit program. However, our school can’t solely bear the burden of sending people to Detroit.
Detroit has many new business opportunities to benefit students. At the Mackinac Policy Conference, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder announced the launch of five new business programs to promote the growth of businesses in Michigan. Companies such as Huntington National Bank, Fifth Third Bank, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy have paved the way in this initiative. Quicken Loans, the mortgage company founded by Detroit native Dan Gilbert, recently hired 500 college students to work as interns at their office in Detroit, along with 300 new technology employees. With the unemployment rate rising to 8.2 percent last month, graduating students should be given every opportunity to explore these job options without public transportation holding them back.
Detroit is a city that has had so much taken from it by the recession, and it’s time for the state of Michigan and the students of the University to increase the amount they give back. A commuter rail service that is affordable and easy to access is the solution.