The Livingston County Transit Master Plan has received final approval.

The Livingston County Board of Commissioners met Monday night and approved the plan with four members absent but enough for a quorum. There are four major goals outlined in the plan; to improve system efficiency of current service for existing and new customers, develop new services to expand the customer base and respond to unserved needs, provide regional connections, and collaborate across communities, agencies and sectors for multi-modal transportation. The effort has been in the works for some time now, with the Livingston County Transportation Coalition, stakeholders and analysts from AECOM collecting data for the plan that aims to enhance and expand local transit services. Various components of the transit plan came from community member suggestions and ideas during various visioning sessions. Some of the goals contained within the plan will be implemented immediately, like a pilot test for dial-a-ride bus service on Sundays beginning in June through the Livingston Essential Transportation Service or LETS. A request for proposals will also be put out for new trip management software and options for service to the airport. LETS has also received a grant that will allow the system to buy two 13-passenger transit vans. The Transit Master Plan also includes goals that may take longer to achieve because of the need for local resources or required approval processes. Among those are connections to biking and walking trails, commuter service to Ann Arbor and a bus route along Grand River Avenue.

Commissioner Dennis Dolan told WHMI he’s personally happy to see the plan move forward, as well as all of the input that been involved in the creation of it. He says as everyone knows, like with roads, there’s a situation in the county with the current growth rate, expansion and the influx of needs of new individual people moving into various townships in the county as well as the elderly population. Dolan says they’ve been expanding the transportation program for a while now, noting there is a greater need. He says by looking into some of the needs, the more that will be accomplished and a great deal more in the future as well so he’s very happy with the progress and how things are moving forward. Dolan says one of the priorities they would like to see with transportation and the LETS bus system is a Grand River route. He says there are some plans in Hamburg Township and other areas and they also have some input and thoughts to transportation through LETS, adding there are a few different areas of that nature that come to mind that are probably the most substantial start points. Dolan said without too much expenditure of time, he’s sure they’ll see a lot of other opportunities and expansion in the system itself.

Three people spoke in support of the plan during call to the public at the meeting and encouraged the board to do everything it can to support the public transit program. One was Hamburg Township resident Steve Pugsley, who is a member of the Livingston County Transportation Coalition. He stated the plan was well structured and includes a lot of positive recommendations, saying leaders are working diligently. Pugsley noted projected increased growth in the county, especially in the age 65 and older population, and says he hopes to see public transit expand in the county. Karen Pierce of Hamburg Township told the board while the plan offers guidance to move transportation forward; she would like to see some more teeth in it. She noted that public transportation typically comes with a price tag and while she appreciates the county’s frugality when it comes to spending, she would hope the county would deem appropriate funding toward the transit system. A link to the full Transit Master Plan is provided. (JM)