2013-10-17 / Front Page

Public transit requests renewal, extension of hours

Above, the Schoolcraft County Public Transit building and one of its buses are shown. 
Courtesy photo Above, the Schoolcraft County Public Transit building and one of its buses are shown. Courtesy photo MANISTIQUE – Schoolcraft County Public Transit is looking for approval of its current millage rate, with the addition of .87 mils, in the upcoming election. The organization is requesting the slightly increased millage in order to expand its services.

According to SCPT Director John Stapleton, the transit has operated with a .5 millage rate for 20 years, renewing the rate every 5 years. By adding .87 mils, he said transit will be able both fund the current operations and expand services, such as providing rides on the weekends – even into the late night hours.

Specifically, the extra millage amount would increase Monday – Friday hours from 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday day service would now be offered from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Lastly, a Friday and Saturday evening service would run from 6 p.m. until 2:30 a.m.

“There is a misconception out there about the millage,” Stapleton said. “People don’t understand what happens if it doesn’t pass. That’s our match to receive state and federal funds, so if we don’t get the millage, we won’t get that funding.”

Most recently, state and federal funds were used to purchase two additional 17-passenger buses for transit. The buses are expected in 5-6 months, Stapleton explained, and will be arriving just in time.

“These buses are greatly needed, especially with the hospital moving,” he said. “We’ve had an increased demand.”

The additional millage amount equates to approximately .30 cents a month for a person who owns an $80,000 home with a $40,000 taxable value, Stapleton said. For the entire .587 mils, this would cost that same homeowner approximately $3.50 a year.

Since the operating millage is tied into the additional expansion of services amount, Stapleton explained it is essential that the request passes.

“Without a millage, public transit would no longer be able to offer rides for medical appointments, shopping, student passes and preset appointments,” he said.

The number of buses running and staff would likely be reduced, Stapleton added, along with a possible rate increase.

Currently, the transit service operates in many parts of Schoolcraft County, including runs to Seney, Germfask, Curtis, and Cooks twice a day. It is staffed with 11 people and nine buses, along with three mini-vans designed for longer rides. Three of the buses are equipped with lifts for handicapped residents, and one bus is used to accommodate larger groups. Two of the existing buses without lifts will be replaced by the incoming new buses.

“We have studied ALTRAN in Munising and they are currently providing 50-150 rides each Friday and Saturday evening,” said Stapleton. “Of the service they provide, these are one of the last ones they would drop. Their community has also helped to provide these services after seeing the benefits to the local residents and tourists.

This is proven service in a community the size of Manistique,” he added. “There is no taxi service in Munising, the same as Manistique.”

To ride transit, patrons pay based on where they are riding. In the “city zone”, a rider can expect to pay $2 to go anywhere within city limits. For an additional $2, patrons may ride anywhere in “Zone 2”, which includes Townline Road and Little Harbor Road. A fee of $6 is charged to those wishing to ride anywhere else in Schoolcraft County – “Zone 3” – outside of Zone 2.

Senior citizens, those suffering from disabilities or handicaps, and students pay half-priced rates. Students are also offered monthly student passes at discounted rates.

Stapleton explained the transit will be providing free transportation in town, to and from the polls, on Nov. 5. He noted this is the practice with all elections.

For more information on the Schoolcraft County Public Transit millage, contact 341-2111 or email transitdispatch@schoolcraftcounty.net.

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