Earlier this month, the Four County Community Foundation applied for a grant to study the options for bringing public transportation to eastern Lapeer County. The foundation’s annual Needs Assessment survey showed that local residents, particularly senior citizens, believe this is one of the area’s biggest needs.

If the foundation is awarded the grant money, they’ll likely hire a professional consultant who could help them create a plan to resolve the issue.

The fact is that many Michiganders rely on public transportation in their everyday lives. According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, there were more than 80 million passenger trips in 2019 for both urban and rural transit agencies.

According to the Michigan Public Transit Association, there has been unprecedented ridership growth in recent years even in non-urban areas like ours. Huron County saw their ridership grow by 86 percent over a ten year period, 2004-2014 and Caro Transportation saw their numbers grow by 29 percent over the same time period.

Statics from the state show that most public transit users utilize the service to get to work or school on a daily basis. The foundation believes that public transportation, particularly for senior citizens, is a critical tool to help seniors get to medical and other health-related appointments.

As with most ventures, sources of funding may be the biggest challenge to expanding transportation options in the Tri-City area. According to the MPTA, most systems are supported by millages or general fund dollars from municipalities. Some state funding is available through MDOT but as more systems come online—as they are expected to—there is less available funding for each of them.

We look forward to seeing the outcome of the foundation’s work in this area and hope that a sensible solution can be found that helps more residents be mobile and access the care they need.