Cass council hears about transit mergerPublished 7:41pm Thursday, October 17, 2013
Dowagiac Mayor Donald Lyons was present at the Cassopolis Village Council meeting Monday night to discuss the future of Cass County’s public transit systems.
The Dowagiac Dial-A-Ride (DART) and Cass County Public Transit (CCPT) are being consolidated into one system operated by the Cass County Transportation Authority (CCTA). This would combine Dowagiac’s three buses with CCPT’s 11 for a total of 14 buses in the new system. According to the CCTA, benefits of the consolidation include improvement in service for system users, more efficient use and maintenance of vehicles, a centralized service center with centralized dispatching, and better coordination of bus routing with reduced duplication of services.
Speaking for the CCTA, Lyons asked the community to support a millage of .28 mills for five years to fund the public transit on the Nov. 5 ballot.
Formerly the systems were funded 50 percent by the state government and 20 percent by the federal government, but now are only funded 36 percent by the state and 16 percent federal. Lyons said expenses are going up, but funding is going down and more cuts to government funding are expected.
They have already reduced services, but are at an “irreducible minimum” according to Lyons, and have already raised the cost of using it to almost $5 a ride—about as high as it can go and still be affordable enough for people to use.
Combining the two systems, Lyons said, would result in savings but not enough to keep it functional.
“Frankly if the millage doesn’t pass, the system will go away.” Lyons said.
The systems served nearly 52,000 people last year. Seventy percent of patrons are seniors or disabled.
Chief of Police Frank Williams Jr. said, “Probably close to 75-80 percent of seniors use it. It’s needed. I’m behind [Lyons] 100 percent.”
Village Trustee David Johnson said of the system, “I drove a bus for about a year and I can say it is a tremendous service. So many people need it I think if we didn’t have it, there would be an increase in other problems in our community. It’s very clean and sociable. It’s an excellent service.”
Also at the meeting:
• Passed resolution to consider Industrial Facilities Exemption Certification for Postle Aluminum. Postle has already created 29 jobs in Cassopolis and is expected to create a total of 50.
• Authorized SAW grant application
• Voted to close S. Rowland Street and N. Disbrow Street from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. for Fall Fest
• Set Halloween hours for 6-8 p.m. on October 31
• Approved the creation of a sewer service line for Postle Aluminum for $6,950
• Approved the purchase of two Versa Probe Meter reading devices for $5,040
• Approved six month extension of the listing agreement with Loux & Hayden
• Approved a contract with Ziker Cleaners/Ziker Uniforms