BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Plans for a transportation authority in Calhoun County have taken a big step forward.
Transportation in Calhoun County can be hard to come by.
“If you’re not a senior or you’re not disabled, transportation is really hard to get in Calhoun County. A lot of people don’t want to own a car, they don’t want the stress of driving, a lot of people can’t afford one either. So without having access, there’s no other options,” said Doug Ferrall, Calhoun County assistant director of community development.
In response, five years ago the county launched a transit study.
“Really looking at what are neighboring counties doing and throughout Michigan what are counties doing? And they’re offering transportation and we really saw a need,” Ferrall said.
Thursday, with a 5-2 vote, the Calhoun County Board of Commissioners moved forward with creating The Transportation Authority of Calhoun County.
The Authority’s board, which is expected to consist mostly of elected officials, will have the ability to decide exactly what countywide transit looks like and how it’s funded.
“They’ll be the ones saying, do we need a millage to support that, and if so, at what level? That’s likely the case,” Ferrall said.
Ferrall said the TACC will work with Battle Creek and Marshall’s transit systems to create one consolidated service.
Fixed route buses in Battle Creek will continue, but he imagines transportation throughout the rest of the county looking similar to the BCGo pilot program.
“Providing county transportation authority is going to look like having vans, smaller vehicles, going around the county,” Ferrall said.
During Thursday’s commissioners’ meeting, some community members said they’re all for the plan.
“I see a big opportunity for single people, for young families, for senior citizens to have dependable, public transportation options,” said a resident in support of the TACC.
Some others at the meeting said they’re worried about tax implications.
“I’d like to see things that actually get really close to breaking even so the taxpayer isn’t footing the bill,” said a resident in opposition to the TACC.
Ferrall added that municipalities will have the ability to opt out of the transportation authority and they must do so by Oct. 9.
“That means they wouldn’t be able to have riders come in or leave their community,” Farrell said. “But it also means they wouldn’t be taxed if a millage was put on the ballot.”
If a millage is needed, it would likely go on the ballot in August 2024.