A resolution authorizing the Livingston Essential Transportation Service to apply for grant funds to buy buses for a dedicated service route along Grand River is moving along.

LETS is requesting authorization to apply for $766,250 in state and federal grant funds to purchase six additional medium-duty buses for service along Grand River between Howell and Brighton. The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program is a federally funded program administered by SEMCOG that aims to improve air quality and relieve congestion. A resolution to apply for the grant was before the General Government & Health and Human Services Committee of the Board of Commissioners on Monday night and was met with support in a 4-0 vote.

LETS Director Greg Kellogg detailed the proposal to the committee and was joined in the audience by Commissioner Bob Bezotte, who is assisting with the project. Kellogg says the Grand River service is estimated to cost around $1.1 (m) million annually to operate annually – with about half funded by recurring state grants. He says the half will need to come from a local source of some kind and the plan is to approach the private sector. Kellogg told committee members they have support from the Livingston County Transportation Coalition, which includes various local officials and other representatives various sectors – including the Chambers of Commerce and the Livingston County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Kellogg noted the proposed route is bounded by the two biggest malls in the county – Tanger Outlet Center and Green Oak Village Place- and then all of Grand River in-between. He added that includes private companies, Cleary University and local governments that could potentially contribute. Kellogg says the plan is to utilize everyone’s various contacts and network to hopefully secure the funding, which would likely have better odds if the bus purchase is already secured via the grant. The project is eligible for funding but the grant is contingent on the service coming to fruition. Kellogg says if it doesn’t happen and they can’t secure the private sector funding, then they would more than likely have the opportunity to revise the request and use the grant for replacement buses.

Committee Chair Wes Nakagiri had concerns about committing general fund dollars to the project, which he feels are very precious. He told WHMI he feels the plan they have in place to try and get private sector partners is the optimum way to proceed. Nakagiri says if those that are served by the Grand River corridor see value in the service, then they’ll likely contribute. If not, then they likely won’t so he says they’ll see how it goes. Nakagiri added that he thought Kellogg’s backup plan was excellent thinking in that if they can’t get the private sector dollars, then they could look at trying to use the grant for replacement buses. Transportation Coalition Co-Chair Neal Glazebrook attended the meeting and thanked the committee for its support, saying the service is needed and long overdue but is also the next logical step in implementing the county’s Master Transit Plan.

After the request to apply for the grant is taken up by the Finance Committee, it will proceed to the full county board for final action. (JM)