MI Bus Funding at Risk

Public transit funding in Michigan has been decreasing right along with the state’s economy in general.

Bus funding reached record levels in 1998, but it’s down nearly $150 million dollars since then.

And it’s putting some programs at risk.

Bus services are demanding that state lawmakers do something about it.

They’re asking the legislature to address the state’s transportation funding formula sometime between the November election and the start of the new term in January.

One of the programs at risk is the Job Access program.

It does just what it sounds like — helps commuters who may not have vehicles of their own.

Altran executive director Rochelle Cotey says it’s helpful in an area like Alger County, where there are a lot of people who work service industry jobs and don’t own a car.

The Job Access program is half-funded by the federal government with the state of Michigan picking up the other half.

But for fiscal 2011, which begins October 1st, the program may bite the dust.

Cotey says the state House and Senate haven’t authorized spending the state’s half of the money yet.

She says if they don’t, it would greatly hurt bus customers.

Michigan Public Transit Authority director Clark Harder says Michigan is also at risk of losing $120 million in federal transit dollars because it hasn’t come up with $30 million in matching funds yet.

He says the state is on a path to losing 35 years of public investment in a strong bus system.