ROUTE STUDY AND COMPREHENSIVE OPERATIONAL ANALYSIS RECOMMENDATIONS
In recent years, resources available to operate the Muskegon Area Transit System (MATS) program have fallen short of expenses. To address this situation, the County and MATS’ funding partners determined that a more sustainable service delivery design for local public transportation services was necessary.
To achieve this, Muskegon County contracted with a transit industry consulting team from Foursquare Integrated Transportation Planning (FITP) to conduct a MATS Route Study and Comprehensive Operational Analysis. This effort analyzed community demographics, evaluated MATS’ current services, and reviewed available operating and capital resources as compared to peers. The consulting team conducted ridership and community surveys and met throughout the project with stakeholders, MATS’ drivers, community members, and others for input.
The consulting team prepared a Final Report and presented recommendations to the County for consideration in January 2020. The recommendations, available at the links below, are being reviewed for possible implementation by the County and its partner municipalities. As implementation steps are considered, actions that may require public hearings will be identified and announced, as needed.
Key recommendations from the consulting team include:
- A new type of transportation service, often called “Microtransit” should be developed by MATS for use in participating municipalities. Microtransit would use smaller vehicles and new technologies for efficient delivery of same-day rides on demand. The service would be an accessible general public shared-ride transportation service supported and overseen by MATS and delivered through a qualified contractor. Certain geographic areas and times of the day can be more effectively served by microtransit than by existing MATS services. Microtransit service would offer a new option where fixed-route and GoBus services are reduced or eliminated.
- Fixed-route bus service remains important, but should be focused on corridors and time periods that can produce the most ridership for this form of service. A redesigned MATS route network is recommended that offers bi-directional routes (instead of meandering loops), fewer forced transfers, and shorter travel times to important basic needs such as groceries, pharmacies, etc. The redesigned network serves a smaller and denser geographic area and provides service from 7am to 6pm, Monday through Friday. MATS would continue to directly operate this service.
- It is recommended that the existing MATS GoBus program be re-purposed to serve only the federally-required Americans with Disabilities Act transportation needs. This would provide next-day transportation service to persons who are within the fixed-route service area, but cannot access fixed-route service due to a certified disability. For these people, the current GoBus scheduling and capacity deficiencies would be relieved through this recommendation.
- The recommended microtransit solution presents a new form of public transportation service to encourage new customers and retain existing customers that are seeing some of their traditional MATS services reduced or eliminated. Microtransit can provide same-day GoBus-like transportation to the general public, seniors, and persons with disabilities within participating municipalities. Microtransit can allow MATS to expand early-morning, late-night, and weekend service (including adding Sunday service) to provide riders with new travel opportunities that MATS cannot currently offer.
Below are links to the Consulting Team’s Final Report, the appendices to the report, and an excerpt of the report containing just the Executive Summary and Closing Statement.
We invite you to read the documents and to provide your feedback via the MATS website comment portal, which can be found here.
When any future public hearings are announced, an official public comment portal will be made available to receive feedback on the specific implementation plan presented.