By Nick Somoski
LANSING TOWNSHIP – CATA representatives answered questions and provided more information about the proposed changes to the route 11 service at a public hearing held at the CATA Transportation Center Oct. 3.
CEO and Executive Director Sandy Draggoo said gathering opinions from riders who will be directly impacted by this change is one of the most important aspects of the decision- making process. “We always have a public hearing so people can come and give us their comments on what’s a better way of doing something than what is our proposed change,” she said.
The route currently runs on Waverly and Old Lansing roads and provides service to residents living in Lansing Township’s Colonial Village neighborhood. People who regularly visit the YMCA of Lansing will also be affected.
According to Draggoo, the proposed change will eliminate service to the YMCA along Waverly and Old Lansing roads and move the route to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Reasoning and concerns
Draggoo says this change is a cost-effective way to eliminate service in an area where ridership is low and enhance service in an area where ridership is expected to grow in the next year. According to Draggoo, a new shopping center will be constructed along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Olds Avenue, which is where the new route addition will be implemented.
“It would help people in this neighborhood get to a grocery store,” Draggoo said. “We’ve been getting a lot of feedback from people in Colonial Village that want this change.
“They want us to go by this shopping center, and they are even wanting us to go more-so into this neighborhood.”
Draggoo says there is an abandoned school in this neighborhood that is now being used by the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. She is seeing an increased need by people across the Greater Lansing area to get to this school, which the route change will make happen.
However, not everyone has been pleased with this proposed change. “Whenever you go into a neighborhood, you get some people that are happy and some people that are not so happy,” Draggoo said.
Lansing Township officials have also voiced their concern about discontinuing service to the YMCA. Although there are not many riders on this section of the route, Draggoo says it is not always a matter of numbers.
“We’re listening to that concern from Lansing Township,” Draggoo said. “It’s a matter of how will those kids get to the YMCA if they don’t have public transportation.
“[Lansing Township officials] don’t necessarily care which route; they just want us to find some route that can serve the YMCA and not abandon that area completely” she said. Sometimes you don’t make all of your decisions based just on ridership. I think what we’ll have to do is look at all the comments from today and then look at what might be done.”
Riders and residents chime in
A majority of the comments made at the hearing were in favor of the proposed change. Lamar Williams, who lives in the Southside, says it is a great change for people who live in the gap between Pleasant Grove Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. “It’ll actually help a lot because there are fewer riders on [Old Lansing Road], so it’ll be good to switch it up and make it more convenient for riders.”
Barbara Mendenhall, who lives on route nine, says she will now be able take route 11 to travel to the schools where she works as a substitute teacher. “The route change is good because it makes it more flexible to the [route] nine drivers and it makes it easier for me to get to different schools to substitute teach.”
“I think it’s a great improvement, servicing Valu Land and Cole Academy and the senior center in that area,” resident Dana DeBruyn said. “When winter comes, I plan to ride it.”
Several riders were unhappy with the change, however, including resident Ruth Crothers. “It affects me a great deal because I won’t be able to see my doctors,” Crothers said. “[The new route is] a half mile away from the clinical center, and although I can get to the new bus stop because of my chair, people in walkers can’t.”
Crothers hopes CATA officials will reconsider the change. “I think they should put it back the way it was,” Crothers said. “It made more sense.”
Draggoo and other officials will review all comments and also speak with bus operators to gauge their opinions on the route change before making an official decision.
The change is scheduled to take effect January 2014.