Oshtemo: West main & 9th Street bus routes west of US 131 (Precincts 3 & 9)
Township Meetings: 2nd Tuesdays, 7pm, 7275 West Main, Kalamazoo, 49009
Pavilion: N Ave. bus route east of Sprinkle to Pavilion Estates–2,000 residents, students, job holders, elderly and disabled transit riders. (Precinct 3)
Township Meetings: 2nd Tuesdays, 7pm, 7510 East Q Ave., Scotts 49088
Texas: 9th Street business & residential corridor bus route to Kalamazoo Valley Community College (Precinct 3)
SECOND LARGEST RIDERSHIP in Kalamazoo County transit system
Township Meetings: 2nd/4th Mondays, 6pm, 7110 West Q Ave, Kalamazoo 49009
SOME TOWNSHIP LEADERS MISUNDERSTAND HOW BUS SERVICE WORKS
After the Kalamazoo County Commission approved the boundaries of the new Central County Transit Authority, three townships (Oshtemo, Texas and Pavilion) have “opted out” one or more precincts within their jurisdictions from having access to public transportation service. Although the leaders of Portage, Kalamazoo Township, Comstock Township and Parchment agreed to the expanded boundaries of the new transit authority – give a big “Thank You” to them – as things stand now, public transit will become less available in several key locations.
In Oshtemo scheduled bus service to Meijer’s, Wal-Mart, medical offices, and other stops on M-43 west of US 131 will likely stop. All of Ninth Street north of KL Ave, where businesses, medical offices, residential homes and apartments, financial institutions and restaurants are located, will cease to have public transportation services. Texas Township opted out the precinct that contains KVCC, an action that surely will impact many students. In Pavilion Township by a vote of 2 elected trustees and the supervisor, regularly scheduled bus service will end to Pavilion Estates, a mobile-home park housing nearly 2000 residents currently generating nearly 700 rides per month.
But, all is not lost. People in these areas and in other parts of the county could make a case to these township boards and encourage them to reconsider. There is still time to revisit these votes.
Why did Oshtemo, Texas and Pavilion Townships opt out precincts currently receiving scheduled bus service? Did they think that bus service would continue without their paying for it? In the townships that made opt-out decisions, my guess is that their leaders felt that the majority of their voters had cars, and that taxpayer considerations of some of those voters trumped the value of transit for thousands of riders from around the county who enter or leave these opted-out precincts 6 days of the week.
The votes taken by each township do not affect the precinct residents alone. Their votes affect the overall economic health of everyone living in the county. In our metropolitan area, no matter which suburban township we live in, we derive benefit from dispersed institutions – schools, medical offices, commercial and manufacturing establishments. For them to remain beneficial to the economy, transportation must connect them to each other and to where we live. Along with the benefits of dispersal come the responsibilities to provide access by roads, bridges and by public transportation.
Scheduled bus service is a subtle but powerful economic development tool for the townships AND the entire metropolitan area. To maintain its effectiveness, precincts currently with bus service which have been “opted out” need to opt back in to the Central County Transit Authority.
All residents of the county have a stake in public transportation. Urge the elected leaders of Oshtemo, Pavilion and Texas Townships to reconsider their vote. Help save them from making a big mistake that will, at the very least, make living in our area more difficult for thousands of people.