Transit growth rockets

The wheels on the bus are on a roll for Harbor Transit.
Alex Doty
Jan 20, 2014


The organization set two ridership records in what transit officials are calling the busiest 12 months in Tri-Cities public transit history.

In 2013, they provided a total of 200,437 rides — a 6.4 percent increase from 2012.

“No doubt the expansion of our service area into Grand Haven Charter Township had an impact with respect to this increase,” Grand Haven Transportation Director Tom Manderscheid said. “But we were pleased to see the other long-standing areas we serve also experienced solid growth in ridership.”

Manderscheid said while the numbers aren’t surprising, it shows that the service is something people rely on. He noted that if everyone in the Harbor Transit service area rode the bus in 2013, the number of rides equates to about six rides per person, per year.

“People use us and they use us a lot,” Manderscheid said.

For one day in November, the bus service carried 898 passengers — a single-day record for the service. This number helped to produce ridership for the month that was 1,458 more than the prior year.

“A bus can deliver about six rides per hour, (and) you’ll have to have a lot of buses,” Manderscheid said.

Manderscheid said Harbor Transit operates about 16 buses during peak ridership times. That’s an increase from 11 prior to the expansion into the township.

Ridership was also up in all major categories, with the most significant increases coming from riders ages 50 and older. Students in the service area also showed increased ridership.

“In addition, the several new buses and two new mini-vans have made for better service and quicker pickup times, which have also helped to manage rider demand for service,” Manderscheid said.

A survey of more than 200 riders recently conducted by Harbor Transit indicates people are happy with the service. A total of 90.7 percent of respondents rated the overall level of service as being "excellent" or "good." 

You can see the complete survey results at

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.



So when is SL Township going to wake up and expand it to them?


I'd love to see Harbor Transit running into Spring Lake Township, as soon as it is capable of sustaining itself. My taxes are high enough.


Does that mean there will finally be a line haul transit bus system so you don't have to wait until the next millennium to get a scheduled ride and can stand on designated street corners and be picked up? Just like Muskegon and Grand Rapids. Hey Grand Haven! Welcome to the 21st century. This has got to be the most counterproductive town I have ever lived in. It's a wonder you have a Meijer, Walmart, and a Home Depot. Low crime rates but that's about the only positive thing I can say about it.


I do agree. It can't be difficult to create designated routes within a city as small as Grand Haven.


I'd like to see the "real" numbers Manderscheid is not reporting of people who are dissatisfied with the service. Notice that was not brought up. I can tell you from my own first hand experience here. I called at 12:40 pm for a pickup at Four Pointes just to go to Walmart. I was not picked up until 1:30 pm. Totally ridiculous. Granted it's cheaper than calling a taxi, but still ridiculous to have to wait that long. Good thing it wasn't an emergency. If you call between 1 pm and 4 pm it gets even worse. Pack a lunch, bring a book, and make sure you got a good clean shave that day, because you've got a wait in store. My question is this; why are school kids riding these buses? That only congests and slows down the service. Shouldn't they be using the public school buses for transportation? Sounds to me these school kids have been banned from riding the public school buses for some reason or another. Has you wondering doesn't it?

Former Grandhavenite

I lived in an area that wasn't well served by the Grand Haven Public Schools bus system, so Harbor Transit was the best option until I was old enough to drive. Ideally there would be bus routes serving some of the more remote areas, but I've got to believe it actually saves tax dollars to have small numbers of students riding Harbor Transit in these areas.

Back to the Wall

Sounds to me these Nuclear Poultry have been banned from using the public roadways for some reason or another. Has you wondering doesn't it?


Come on, we all know roosters can't get a license.
"I keep pitchin' 'em, and you keep missin' 'em." Foghorn Leghorn


Rooster, if you did your research you would find out it can take anywhere from at least 30-45 minutes to pick you up after you call. It's right there posted on their website.


If it ran later in the evening the working stiffs could use it to enjoy bars, restaurants and shopping, but maybe employed taxpayers aren't the target audience.


Odd how that works, isn't it? Our taxes go to help support this service, and then it's mostly used by the ones our taxes are also helping to support.

Barry Soetoro



not a dependable way of getting where you need to and on time, i called them at 7:00am, told them i had be at work by 8:00am, well after picking all of the school kids, they were priority, i got to wok 9:30am and had to explian to the boss why i was late, then recently needed a ride to a doctors office vist, a half hour worth of work turned in to 3 hours, then we had to stop a the bus station to change drivers and lived a block from there, so i walked the rest, i feel the system is tourist based and dont care about the people paying the taxes right here, your right unclejoe !!!!


Yep, for $1.50 ride Harbor Transit should be WAY BETTER. When gas is $3.20/gallon, we as tax paying citizens should demand much prompter service for a ride that is basically free. Those school kids being bussed from day-care, and elderly folks who have doctors appointments can wait. The point of "dial-a-ride" is to keep people from having to stand in hoards at a bus stop in crap weather conditions. With this designated route Im sure things will run much more efficiently when the buses at the corner of Robbins and Ferry have to stop for all the assisted living patients. Drivers getting out to help the folks in wheel chairs with the lift.... very quick process. How dare this form of cheap public transportation cater to those in our community who are unable to get around themselves. It would be much better suited as a form of convenience for those of us who do in fact have the means, but would like to spend our evenings shopping or out on the town.

Barry Soetoro

Obviously, you either don't pay property taxes or don't pay attention to the line items on your tax bill. If you did, you wouldn't be calling Harbor Transit "cheap".


Barry, I thought you were tax exempt. Looking through my tax bill...
I don't mind paying taxes to the schools, even though I have no relation going to them.
I have no problem paying for police services, even though I do not use them often, if at all.
I do not mind paying for fire protection, even though I have never had a fire (knock on wood).
Museum & Library I do use and support.
The Aging council ??? wth
Parks, I use them constantly and am in total support of the county parks program.
E-911, well that is very cheap for a wonderful service I might also never use.
Transportation, it is high, one of the highest taxes on the bill. But they just recently expanded into GH Twp which is why it is now on my bill. I do believe it is needed, and operating vehicles is very expensive.

Also, to the above commentaters...if you would enjoy waiting for 30 minutes at a bus stop in this weather for the bus to maybe show up instead of inside your warm house, you are idiots! Plan ahead a little. To call at 7 and say "I have to be to work at 8" and expect it from a public transit system is being a moron. Call a cab if you want that kind of service fcs.

Barry Soetoro

The vehicles they buy and maintain seem a bit overkill for the purpose they serve. There is no incentive for Harbor Transit to be efficient. Need more operating cash - jack up the millage.


Maybe they should get a vw van? The purpose they serve is not just for one customer like a cab company. Dingbat up there calls at 7am wanting to get to work by 8am, Johnny Jane & Judi all have a standing order to be to school by 8am, dicky has to be to work by 8:30 , Jules has an 8am appt, and they are all on the same bus. Wait, there are 3 more calls, you need to pick them up and drop each one also. I have done it. It's not an easy job because of the bitchy self-righteous riders.
Don't know about them jacking any milage though. And I believe they are efficient for "the purpose they serve".


I do pay property taxes, and have numerous times read the items in detail. While often (more often than not, actually) I pick it apart and dispute each one in my head as to why Im paying this, the Harbor Transit is not one I have an issue with. I see on a daily basis the dependence many of the members of our community have on Harbor Transit, and I back them completely.


I can't understand for the life of me why Harbor Transit doesn't follow Holland's lead with their Max system. They have designated routes which are used a lot, they also have the Reserve a Max program. Harbor Transit would see an even larger increase in ridership with designated routes and bus stops. Public Transportation is increasing in popularity but people won't use a system that they can't rely on. G.R., Muskegon, Holland all have bus routes. Granted they all need public millage to continue operation but we (except SLT) are already paying it. If they had a route for a bus stops every half hour, I guarantee they would see an uptick in ridership and increase in revenue. Heck I would use it if I could rely on it. Really, how difficult would it be to set up and try?


To dedicate busses to travel around on routes with no riders is absurd. What a waste of fuel and resources. So the busses on call can take even more time to get to riders because there is an empty bus driving around on a route? So disingenuous, if there was a route, I would use it. Do you use it now? How hard is it for you to pull that phone out of your pocket? BTW, it has been tried and failed miserably when J Bildner was in charge.


Yes I do use it on occasion when I don't want to mess with the traffic and just relax. I would also use it more if there was a route that I could plan on. I have a vehicle so I don't need to use it but that don't mean I wouldn't if I could rely on it. There are others that would also but that would put a hurt on the cab companies. And yes it is hard to pull that phone out of my pocket since I see absolutely no need to have one in it. If someone wants to reach me they can leave me a message and I will call them back. Why pay the ridiculous prices to carry a phone with me all the time? Now as far as it's been tried, not properly. You are not open minded so if you would like to hear the plan, let me know.


I was working there when it was tried. 'not properly'? Now I call you a liar. Let's hear the plan, open my mind and Harbor Transits, please enlighten those not as smart as you...


And what am I lying about? Enlighten me. You worked there at the time, did you not see any way it could have been done differently? More efficiently? Would you like to sit down sometime and go over it? You seem to take offense to any comment I have toward having ideas to fix it. I think you and I could get a lot done since you have already done it all and I have knowledge of ways to make things efficient. Just let me know. I could write a book on here of ways to try and tweak to make it work. But a start would be to determine where the busiest destinations and pickups are. Segment the cities out by typical ridership numbers and busiest times of day. Set up a transfer station. Set up stops within a couple blocks of each other while staying off main roads (congestion). Now do some research, example would be routes to industrial areas would be more often in the morning, early - mid afternoon, and at night. Routes to the beaches would be busier late morning - late afternoon. Adjust the routes to run more often during peak times. The buses are a perfect size for a community such as ours and most of the routes would only need one bus most times. Now keep the Dial a Ride option for special need rides, direct pick up's etc. Honestly man am I that far off? Is it something that could be tweaked a bit?


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