Despite the ramp-up of service in new areas, Harbor Transit Director Tom Manderscheid said he doesn’t think the organization competes with other ride services.
“I see no competition,” he said. “They do their thing and we do our thing.”
The transit service serves Grand Haven city and township; Ferrysburg; Spring Lake Village; and the Lloyds Bayou Senior Complex, Orchard Market, Heartwood Lodge and Oak Crest Manor in Spring Lake Township. The rest of Spring Lake Township isn’t serviced.
Manderscheid noted that one of the biggest things he thinks differentiates Harbor Transit from local taxi providers is their hours of operation. Harbor Transit isn’t open for late-night runs when bars close, while taxis have prime time to take advantage of those clients.
“(We refer them to taxis) when we can’t meet their needs or are going out of the service area,” Manderscheid said. “We don’t see them as competition at all.”
Nonetheless, Blue Dog Taxi LLC made its final run this week, and its general manager says it has been a difficult market with two strong taxi companies plus what he called an "incredible" public transportation system.
“Harbor Transit has started to take on a lot of those duties (that we do,)” said Bill Tombs, who helped start the Grand Haven-based Blue Dog Taxi service eight years ago. “We really got hurt when Harbor Transit got in Grand Haven Township.”
While Harbor Transit buses don't run at night, Manderscheid didn’t rule out the possibility of that in the future.
Tombs also cited as part of the decision to close Blue Dog Taxi are high maintenance costs, a dwindling driver pool and insurance taxi rates that are quadruple the rates of private vehicles.
“It’s basically $3,000 per vehicle for PLPD insurance (basic plan with no collision coverage),” he said.
To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.