Cass County residents to vote on transit services next month

Published 5:00 am Saturday, January 20, 2024

CASSOPOLIS — The Cass County Transit Authority has requested a countywide millage for the February 2024 election due to declining State and Federal funding in the face of rapidly escalating costs. 

Specifically, Cass County Transportation Authority, the agency which operates both Cass County Public Transportation and Dowagiac Dial-A-Ride Transit (DART) is requesting a small millage of .25 mills per $1,000 in taxable value that will appear on the ballot on February 27, 2024. 

The millage would support CCTA’s current and additional services to support the ongoing growth and development of Cass County. For the average residential property owner, the millage would increase annual property taxes by approximately $48.46.

For 36 years, Cass County Public Transportation has supported residents of Cass County – veterans, elderly, disabled, young and old. Expenses have rapidly increased both during and even before the pandemic, coupled with the decreased federal funding mentioned above. As such, the agency needs the support of local voters to strengthen its financial position and ensure the organization remains a bedrock of the Cass County community for many years to come.

“The riders who rely on CCPT are the mothers, grandfathers, cousins, siblings, children, or friends of other Cass County residents. For certain, these passengers who need CCPT to get from Point A to points B, C, D … and beyond, are neighbors,” said Gerry Bundle, Executive Director. “The transportation need is real, and we are filling that need to the best of our ability in the face of reduced Federal funding and reduced revenue from service contracts.”

In addition to riders who require transportation to medical appointments, government offices or the supermarket and other urgent needs, there are key segments of the Cass County workforce that need a ride to work at one of the new companies starting up or significantly expanding their operations here. These companies need skilled workers; reliable transportation is part of the reason several companies recently have selected our area for creating new jobs.

A County-Wide Transit Service Plan was developed that focuses on providing Cass County residents with greater access to healthcare facilities, workplaces/jobs shopping and community services.

These goals, according to Bundle, would be accomplished through:

  • Scheduled Routes that connect Cass County communities to key destinations in the region;
  • Expanded Evening Service that provides Cass County neighbors with greater flexibility in accessing key destinations, particularly employment opportunities that require later work hours;
  • New Saturday Service that allows Cass County residents to access key community locations on weekends;
  • On-Demand Services that enable customers to use a smartphone app to schedule and pay for rides.

The agency will need to hire select staff (thereby creating new Cass County-based jobs) and fund the purchase of certain additional goods and services to strengthen operations for all Cass County neighbors.