Study puts brakes on regional transit system

Anyone hoping for a regional-based transit system linking Ottawa County and surrounding communities in Muskegon and Kent counties will have to wait.
Alex Doty
Sep 26, 2012

A report released Monday for the Ottawa County Planning Commission rejects the idea of starting such a regional transit system.

“The analysis of the findings in the report were pretty straightforward,” said Mark Knudsen, director of the county's Planning and Performance Improvement Department. “The cost was quite expensive and the availability of funds was limited.”

Knudsen also noted that a lack of demand and estimates of low ridership are also reasons that it isn't recommended. Ridership is projected to be relatively light, ranging from one to nine passengers per hour.

“The route that had the most demand was Holland to Grand Rapids, and that would have been nine people per hour,” Knudsen said.

Knudsen said there were routes that may have doubled a commuter’s transit time.

“Most people were unwilling to add that much time to their trip,” he said.

Knudsen also noted that a regional transit service would be difficult to start without the contribution of local funding.

The Ottawa County study looked at routes that would’ve connected Grand Haven/Norton Shores to Holland, Grand Haven/Muskegon to Grand Valley State University, Muskegon to Grand Rapids, Holland to Grand Rapids, and Holland to GVSU. The estimated capital cost to establish all of these routes was $1.97 million. Annual operating costs were identified as high as $1.53 million.

“I think that the key is funding,” said Grand Haven Transportation Director Tom Manderscheid, who oversees Harbor Transit. “To fund something like that, who funds it?”

While the bulk of the proposal was rejected, local and county officials say that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be used in the future.

“I think there’s pieces of that study that have merit, and we’re going to review it in the future to see if it will fit for us,” Manderscheid said. “... I think there’s some employers locally who’ve expressed a need for public transit to get people to and from work."

Knudsen also said there is interest in regional public transportation, and changes may occur in the future that would make such a service viable. Factors include higher gas prices, lack of parking, and future economic development that could cause a spike in the need for public transportation options.

“This study will be good for another 10 years,” Knudsen said. “The study could be used at any point in the future if circumstances change.”
 

Comments

zwesterhouse

Were at too much of a crossroads to dump monies into these projects. Were facing economic collapse 19% unemployment, technological and industrial innovations displacing millions and millions of workers on an annual basis with no hope of ever finding employment for dollars ever again. A study good for 10 years is worthless. Our society will change so fast in the 10. People cannot pay huge medical bills, have to apply for indigent status or poverty exemptions from the county treasurer because they cannot pay their tax bills. We have lost our jobs to robots and software and people are traumatized. Denial is the first phase to the road to recovery. Three more phases to go. I guess the only solution is to become Amish.

AtomicRooster

I decided you weren't worth acknowledging.

AtomicRooster

Anything that could better the community and provide jobs I figured they would be a wet blanket on this topic. Many would benefit from this type of transit. They have M.A.T.S.(Muskegon Area Transit System)in Muskegon and believe me Muskegon is a whole lot poorer than Grand Haven. Just too tight to part with their money and in the long run there would be a payback. Take off your horse blinders and look at the whole wide spectrum of this. How antiquated can you get? I've never seen a community such as this that is so counter-productive. This is 2012 not 1912.

ghmomma

Ugh.....ride a bus? That's for 'those people'.....I'm not riding a bus! Stinky people ride buses. POOR people ride buses. I can't let people I know SEEEE ME get off a BUS!! Seriously! PUBLIC transportation? Omg! You liberal sicko's!

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