By Daniel Hamburg
Mason Times staff writer
Route 46, the bus route between Mason and Lansing, runs one northbound trip daily at 7:05 a.m. from downtown Mason, and one southbound trip at 5 p.m. from the CATA transportation center in downtown Lansing.
Doug Klein, executive director of the Mason Area Chamber of Commerce, said the proposed change would add one more bus in the morning and evening, possibly an hour later than both times, alleviating problems of many people working a 9 to 5 job.
The Mason Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Mason and the Mid-Michigan Program for Greater Sustainability are some of the organizations looking to determine if adding routes would benefit both CATA and citizens who live or work in Mason.
Julie Powers, executive director of the Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, says the grant of about $5,000 is being used to assess the need of more public transportation, as well as enable community members to get involved in the transportation planning process. As the grant administrator, the Mid-MEAC is helping to organize print and online surveys, as well as community forums.
“CATA was very supportive of the idea, but they can’t make recommendations to changing their service unless they have the data to back it up, and it needs to come from the community,” Powers said.
The first forum, held at the end of January, focused on the impact the additional service would have on small businesses. According to Klein, the number of people who live in Lansing and work in Mason is higher than the number of people who live in Mason and work in Lansing.
“Our residents and our businesses pay property taxes to CATA every year, and in return, we get Redi-Ride and (route 46,)” Klein said. “We’re already paying for it. Let’s make it a little bit more convenient.”
Redi-Ride, the CATA service that provides curb-to-curb transportation, makes sense for some residents, but it operates only within the Mason area.
Mason Zoning and Development Director David Haywood said adding service could save people money, giving them more to spend in their communities.
Powers said the data-driven decisionmaking will help show the exact needs of people riding the buses, like seniors who might be “aging in place,” growing older in their communities, rather than in an assisted living or nursing home.
“By offering a little more public transportation options, they might be able to get to Lansing to see a medical specialist, or do some shopping for the day and head back,” Powers said.
“We want to maintain the quality of life and standard of living in Mason,” Klein said. “Part of the quality of life we think, is alternatives for transportation.”
To take the survey and stay updated with future forum dates, visit mason.mi.us.