More schools move to private bus services

Capital News Service
LANSING — The number of Michigan school districts contracting out at least a part of their transportation services increased 150 percent from 2010 to 2014, according to a think tank survey. The survey by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland recorded 78 school districts opting for some privatized transportation services during that time, in addition to 53 already contracting out. There are about 540 districts in the state, according to the Department of Education. And while some districts are contracting out only a portion of the service, such as employment, most are privatizing their whole bus operation, said James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the center. Michigan School Business Officials Associate Executive Director Scott Little said the switch to privatized transportation services took off shortly after the Great Recession began in late 2007, largely as an effort to recoup money lost from declining student populations and state funding.

Buses get boost from more passenger demand

Capital News Service
LANSING – Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation in 2011, 2.3 percent more than the previous year — an upward trend in Michigan as well, the American Public Transportation Association reports. The association said total bus ridership increased in most of Michigan’s primary cities last year. However, Sandy Lovell, an accountant at the Office of Passenger Transportation in the Department of Transportation, said ridership in Detroit decreased in 2011. Except for Detroit, six primary Michigan cities experienced increased ridership: 5.7 percent in Ann Arbor, 6.4 percent in Bay City, 5.8 percent in Lansing, 3.4 percent in Monroe, 10.3 percent in Muskegon Heights and 9.7 percent in Port Huron. The pattern is continuing this year.