By ERIC FREEDMAN
Capital News Service
LANSING — Most public transit agencies across the country contract with private firms to provide some services and operations, a new federal study shows. A survey by the General Accountability Office found that local agencies across the country are most likely to contract out for paratransit services for disabled riders, dial-a-ride – or demand-response – and commuter rail service. “Transit agencies most consistently cite reducing costs as a factor influencing their decision to contract,” said GAO, a nonpartisan investigatory arm of Congress. “Contracting can reduce costs because contractors’ workforces are more flexible, with more employees working in part-time positions, and lower insurance costs, among other things.”
Other common reasons are more efficiency, more flexibility and starting new services, it said. Michigan has a long history of helping to fund public transit in every county, according to Clark Harder, executive director of the Michigan Public Transit Association.