BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Calhoun County is pursuing the formation of a public transit authority which would change the transportation landscape for riders, according to Public Transport Director Mallory Avis.
At a meeting Tuesday, Battle Creek city commissioners voted against a resolution to opt out of the program.
A special meeting will be held Thursday, where Calhoun County Commissioners will accept or reject the incorporation for the so-called Transportation Authority of Calhoun County, or TACC.
With Ford's BlueOval Battery Park anticipated to create 2,500 jobs, additional transportation is needed between Marshall and Battle Creek, according to Avis.
“Thinking about that development and what impact it would have based on transportation needs would kind of have to be right at the top of the list," Assistant City Manager Ted Dearing said.
In Avis's presentation at the city commission's meeting Tuesday, she mentioned a study which identified 26,000 unmet trips per year.
“That is before the announcement of Blue Oval," Avis said. "If we estimate that only two percent of people that would be employed there would need transportation, that doubles that number, another 26,000 trips per year that would be needed.”
The goal of TACC is to provide transportation access to all county residents, according to Avis.
“Hopefully folks that live outside of the county who need to get to medical appointments, places of employment would have an option that doesn’t exist today," Dearing said.
Aminique Henry, a resident who has rode the Battle Creek Transit for a year, said she believes the countywide transportation authority will be a benefit.
“Battle Creek does have a good transit system but I’m sure people need to go further out," Henry said.
Dearing said he does not believe bus shortages will be an issue.
“It would be more demand-based vs fixed route and you might have an opportunity to draw a larger pool of drivers based on the type of vehicle you are driving," Dearing said.
Residents shared their insight during public comment at Tuesday's meeting.
"The three hurdles right now are housing, childcare and transportation," a Calhoun County resident said. "If we want to get people to work and turn the system around, people have to have reliable transportation.”
The authority will come with a cost to taxpayers, according to Avis. Once fully operational, residents will be able to get a ride the same day anywhere in the county which has not opted out.
If the county votes to form the authority Thursday, the city has until June 5 to opt out.