Manistee County Transportation sees growth in first quarter

Dial a Ride saw a 19 percent growth in the first quarter of this fiscal year, according to Manistee County Transportation general manager Richard Strevey. (News Advocate File Photo)

MANISTEE — Ridership is steadily trending upward for Manistee County Transportation, and officials are working hard to continue serving the needs of the county through their sustained growth.

Richard Strevey spoke before the Manistee County Board of Commissioners at their January meeting, requesting the approval of an annual Resolution of Intent to apply for state financial assistance for fiscal year 2020.

The resolution also states Manistee County’s intention to provide public transportation services and appoints Strevey as the transportation coordinator for all public transportation matters. The resolution was unanimously approved by the commissioners.

Strevey provided an update to the commissioners regarding Manistee County Transportation’s continued growth.

“So far this year, for the first quarter, we are up 19 percent,” he said. “It has been 4 to 5 percent growth until this year. The year is going a little better for us than what I projected, and a lot of that is fuel costs have certainly helped.”

Karen Goodman, District 6 commissioner, asked if there was potential for planned development in the future, such as stationed pick-up sites.

Strevey said they will continue to run as a curb-to-curb service.

“So much of what we do are for the disabled, kids and seniors. I always say, people don’t normally park their Cadillacs to jump on our buses,” he said. “For these people, we are usually their last means of transportation. People do not, and cannot, walk six blocks to a bus stop; it just doesn’t work that way for us.”

Through the Michigan Department of Transportation, Manistee County Transportation was granted Job Access Reverse Commute (JARC) in 2016 which provided state funding that allowed them to extend dispatch hours.

The extended hours accommodate those who are commuting to and from work, with buses running from 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

“The evenings especially have been very busy,” said Strevey. “With the money provided to us for that, we’ve got three buses on until 6 p.m. and two until 7 p.m. most nights.”

Commissioners discussed the demographics of riders, and how ridership has transformed over time due to a variety of changes in the county.

“With the national trends that younger people aren’t getting their driver’s license and are looking for jobs, even as we grow our economics here in Manistee I’ve heard through the Downtown Development group about people looking for housing right downtown because they don’t have vehicles,” said Goodman.

According to Strevey, much of the growth is due to the schools of choice program which allows local students to attend any school in the county.

“Right now, so much of what we’re doing is coming through the schools, especially because of school of choice,” he said. “I don’t think we can go any further in that regard: We’re out of buses, we’re out of drivers and we’re out of money so we can’t do much more than what we’re doing.”

Strevey expressed his appreciation for the staff at Manistee County Transportation who have continued to serve the needs of county residents as ridership continues to grow.

Manistee County Transportation has provided service for Manistee County citizens since 1975. It is funded by a combination of state and federal support, local millage, and individual and contract fares.

Contact Jane Bond at (231) 398-3111 or email jane.bond@hearst.com. Follow her on Twitter: @MNA_Jane.

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