MARSHALL, Mich. (WOOD) — Calhoun County commissioners will vote Thursday on whether to establish a countywide transit authority to oversee and operate public transportation.

County administrator and controller Kelli Scott said the ball really started to roll on the proposed transit authority in 2018.

“We have a lack of public transportation. We also have a lack of Uber, Lyft, taxicab services in Calhoun County, so that is (a) gap that again has been identified for a very long time,” she explained.

While Battle Creek and Marshall have their own public transit, the Transportation Authority of Calhoun County could bring it to county residents that need it for regional trips or intercity commutes. If created, it would consolidate administrations for those transit systems and expand services countywide, starting in 2024 at the earliest.

“How can we work together to make it a countywide system so that we reduce any inefficiencies … coordinate the scheduling of rides … (and) make sure our buses aren’t overlapping and wasting time and taxpayer money?” Scott said.

For vehicles, the county’s vision is to enter contracts with Battle Creek to use their transit fleet. When it comes to costs, the authority would receive funding from federal and state sources and could seek a millage approval from voters in participating cities and townships only.

Not everyone is on board.

At Tuesday night’s Battle Creek City Commission meeting, a resolution to opt out of the proposed transit authority requested by commissioner at large Jack Smith was discussed. The resolution failed, meaning Battle Creek is in on the transit authority for now.

Smith believes the current proposal would not give Battle Creek enough representation.

“We’re contributing 40% of the revenue to this thing, and we’re going to get one seat out of seven — 14% on this board? That’s unacceptable. We can’t allow that to happen. We need to go back to the drawing board on this effort,” Smith explained. “It’s a bad deal for Battle Creek taxpayers. And it’s a bad deal for Battle Creek transit riders.”

Scott said there is still flexibility for “appropriate representation and appropriate control.”

County commissioners will vote on whether to establish that transit authority Thursday night. If it passes, then municipalities and townships in Calhoun County have until June 5 to say if they’re in or out.