courtesy of the Associated Press
November 12, 2001
LANSING -- Major
metropolitan areas in Michigan received a failing grade
for not turning to mass transit to help cut down on air
pollution, the Sierra Club said.
The Sierra Club report of America's 50
largest metropolitan areas said it found a clear connection
between state and local investment in public transportation
and success in reducing smog from cars and trucks.
"If cities in Michigan invest in public
transportation, clean air will come," said Anne Woiwode,
director of the Michigan branch of the Sierra Club. The
club said most large cites failed, but said those which
spent more on public transportation suffered from less auto
"Although cars are polluting less per
mile, smog isn't getting better because suburban sprawl
forces Americans to drive farther just to pick up a gallon
of milk or take the kids to soccer," she said during a news
"If we give Americans more transportation
choices, we drive less and breathe cleaner air."
In the Sierra Club report, the metropolitan
area of Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint, along with the Grand Rapids
metropolitan area, received a D-minus for the amount of
smog produced and an F for the amount spent on public transportation.
The Sierra Club said the Detroit-Ann Arbor-Flint
area produces 94 pounds of smog from cars and trucks per
person each year, while the Grand Rapids area produces 96
Meanwhile, it said, only $18.90 is spent
per person in Michigan on public transportation for every
$100 spent on highways.
Spokesmen for the state and local governments
both said the other was to blame for the lack of transit
Ari Adler, a spokesman for the state Transportation
Department, said it is largely up to local government to
devote more money to public transportation. He added, however,
that there isn't much public demand for mass transit in
many Michigan cities.
Don Stypula, manager of environmental
affairs for the Michigan Municipal League, would like to
see more money spent on public transportation, but said
the shortfall is largely the fault of the state and federal
"Many transportation systems believe they
have reached their maximum ability to raise local funds.
Public transit is quite stressed," he said. "There isn't
enough funding provided by the state for public transportation
The Sierra Club report, "Clearing the
Air," gave New York State the highest grade for spending
on public transit, and said New York is the only state that
spent more money on transportation alternatives than on
At the same time, New York City had the
least amount of smog per person from cars and trucks.
"When cities build more roads instead
of cleaner public transportation, it become obvious why
smog and air pollution have gotten worse," Woiwode said.
"It's possible to reverse the trend."
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