Some local officials and residents are continuing their pleas to the Livingston County Board of Commissioners to fully implement the adopted Transit Master Plan.
The plan was adopted in May but the Transportation Coalition, which had a major role in the plan’s development, has been requesting commissioners to go a step further and endorse full implementation of the plan. That could include plan goals like connections to biking and walking trails, a bus route along Grand River Avenue, and commuter service to Ann Arbor. During call to the public at a recent meeting, it was again requested the board approve full implementation of the Transit Master Plan as it is well thought out, needed, affordable, and represents the best of governments at the local level being proactive and future oriented. It was noted that over 10,000 county residents need transportation for doctor appointments, work and other things but many senior citizens need reliable transportation now as that population in the county is expected to increase by 40% by the year 2045.
Among those who spoke was Hamburg Township Supervisor Pat Hohl, who thanked commissioners for approving an agreement with the Livingston Essential Transportation Service or LETS to provide additional transit for residents. The township is contracting with the county and a service agreement includes transportation for senior citizens between their homes and the Senior Center, as well as group outings between the Center and destinations in Brighton, Howell, and Ann Arbor. Hohl said the service is off and running and being used regularly – noting a good number of senior citizens are utilizing it. Hohl urged commissioners to consider full implementation of the Transit Master Plan, saying he thinks there are extensive benefits that are hard to quantify until you actually sit down and interact with residents and senior citizens. He added he felt the cost of implementation is very reasonable considering the benefits that residents receive. As for the new rides to the Hamburg Senior Center, Hohl told commissioners they have since opened it up all county residents that need to go to Brighton or Howell. He says they can contact Hamburg Senior Center for rides and the director will communicate with LETS, which will pick up and drop off residents. On Mondays and Fridays, there are two-round trips to Brighton in the morning and afternoon and then two round trips to Howell in the morning and afternoon on Wednesdays.
Dr. Leo Hanifin chairs the Livingston County Transportation Coalition and also spoke. He thanked commissioners for supporting transportation and voting for more and a diverse set of vehicles for LETS, a place for LETS to park vehicles in Brighton for greater efficiency as well as a new information system for LETS to increase efficiency. He said it’s all good progress but they want the “whole enchilada” and full implementation – noting there are two obvious ways to get there – raise more money or move money. Hanifin said he previously talked about raising money, which would cost about the same as a cup of coffee a month for the average homeowner, but there are options for moving money as well and he spent a couple hours reviewing the county budget.
Hanfiin said there are some issues of balance he feels should be addressed as commissioners go forward with future budgeting. He asserted the county spends eleven times more on animal services than transportation; seven times as much for administrative contingency and 28 times as much for the county carpool. Hanifin added that for the 170 plus vehicles that use the lot, the county is spending 28 times as much as is spent for all of the rest of people in the county. He says the airport fund has an allocation of 30 times so the rich people and companies who can afford airplanes are having 30 times as much spent by the county on their needs to fly in and out of a small airport on private planes – instead of seniors, the poor, the sick and disabled, people who need to get to jobs, medical treatment or school, and those who would just prefer to not drive their own car. Finally, Hanifin stated there is 300 times as much spent on courts and if the county was a little more efficient there would be enough money for full implementation. Hanifin concluded by stating there are a lot of ways to get there but feels commissioners should act and form a group to move forward with full implementation.
The Transit Master Plan can be viewed through the provided link. (JM)