Countywide transit up for vote

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 9:26 am on Thursday, November 03, 2011

Should the Montcalm County Transportation Authority levy up to 0.3 mills for a countywide public transportation system?
Montcalm County voters — except in the city of Greenville — will answer that question in Tuesday’s election.
The authority wants to raise $434,891 over three years to fund a transportation system available to everyone. Greenville voters are excluded because the city will continue operating its own bus system, for which city voters already pay a special tax.
Authority Chairman Franz Mogdis encourages voters to research the proposal before making their decision.
“I personally believe it’s needed now more than ever and will continue to be needed in the future,” Mogdis said. “All you’ve got to do is look at the unemployment rates and the poverty rates in Montcalm County. The only way that we’re going to begin to deal with meeting the needs of people who are unemployed is getting them to jobs, getting them to job interviews and getting them to the medical treatment that they need.”
He wants voters to give the authority a three-year chance to demonstrate the necessity of a countywide system and its ability to operate it.
“We believe that in three years we can demonstrate the need and the value of needing that public transportation system,” he said.
Marty Combs is one of seven members of the authority board.
He said county residents are already paying for a transportation system with their gasoline taxes, vehicle registration and title fees. However, those funds go to transportation systems elsewhere in Michigan.
“Nearly half of all dollars required to operate this system will come from the state and federal government,” Combs said. “This proposed system would cost a person with a home with a taxable value of $75,000 dollars less than a dime a day.”
The average estimated fare to ride the proposed transportation system would be $3 for the general public and $1.50 for senior citizens, disabled people and children 12 and younger.
Multiple dial-a-ride buses would operate from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays shuttling people from their homes or other local destinations to a series of fixed routes. Routes and hours would be adjusted to meet public demand.
“Countywide transit would allow citizens with transportation challenges access to all communities and Montcalm Community College,” Combs said. “Agreements would also be made with neighboring counties to allow a broader range of travel.”

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