Back to the Future of Transportation

The public transportation movement in Michigan, it seems, got off on the wrong foot. Central Railroad service was launched in the state with dinner, drinks, and dancing. But the locomotive broke down on the return trip. Horses, Michigan History Magazine tells us, pulled everybody - including Governor Mason - back to Detroit. No wonder innovators like Henry Ford mettled with newer, faster, and more reliable ways to get around.

But that was in February 1838. One hundred and seventy years later new technologies to transport people en masse are more important than ever. Increasing traffic congestion, rising gas prices, and the growing financial burden of car ownership. Mounting concerns about climate change, sprawl, and the environment. The urgent need to revitalize Midwest cities, attract talented workers, and grow the economy. And lifestyle changes that favor walking, biking, and healthy living.

The research on any number of fronts suggests Michigan - like all Great Lakes states - must rekindle its innovative spirit and continue striving for a superior system of transportation choices that save communities and citizens time, money, resources, and stress. Reviving the Central Railroad Station in downtown Detroit, once a major hub of American travel and commuting, would be a smart place to start.