photos by // michael gleason photography
Looking back over 2018, the Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) has had a busy year with many new projects. In July, a new compressed natural gas station was built at the alternative fuel facility by Consumers Energy. The station is important in that it will increase the MTA’s ability to quickly fuel the new compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles that have begun arriving and the additional vehicles that will be purchased in the near future. The first group of CNG vehicles will soon be on the road. In all, MTA will have 35 CNG vehicles on the streets. These vehicles will be replacing many old diesel vehicles currently operating on the fixed routes.
In addition, the MTA purchased the former Baker College Center for Transportation Technology on Dort Highway. The facilities are being prepared to house the MTA Rides to Wellness staff and vehicles. The Rides to Wellness program has grown substantially over the last three years. In November of 2016 over 2,000 passengers were transported with the service. In November 2018, the service transported 8,185 passengers. It is anticipated that by spring of 2019, the numbers should be 500 passengers a day.
Rides to Wellness is a comprehensive nonemergency medical transportation program that provides mobility management, door-to-door service and same-day service to riders going to medical or other health and wellness–related appointments. Using cutting-edge technology, Rides to Wellness is provided through service agreements with local agencies and medical providers.
“The veterans in our community have been underserved for a long time, and we are extremely proud that we have been able to find a way to provide services that will be so important to veterans and their families.”
– Ed Benning –
Another important service under the Rides to Wellness is the new veterans’ transportation service. Partnering with the Genesee County Board of Commissioners and the Genesee County Department of Veterans Services, the service will allow qualified veterans and their spouses to receive free rides throughout Genesee County. Rides to Detroit, Ann Arbor and Saginaw will be given on an as-needed basis.
“The veterans in our community have been underserved for a long time, and we are extremely proud that we have been able to find a way to provide services that will be so important to veterans and their families,” Ed Benning, MTA general manager/CEO, states.
In 2018, the MTA experienced huge growth in its regional services, which transport Genesee County individuals commuting to work in Saginaw, Shiawassee, Lapeer, Livingston and Oakland Counties. Ridership has grown to 9,000 riders a week and soon will total 10,000 riders a week. The MTA has also increased the number of Motor Coach Industries–branded commuter vehicles by purchasing a dozen 54-passenger buses from a transit agency in California. These purchases will help the MTA replace some of the older vehicles that have well over 1 million miles on them.
With its groundbreaking programs and transportation, the MTA has become a national leader for providing innovative services. Benning takes none of this for granted.
“I fully understand that this only happens when you have a great team of dedicated individuals who work each and every day to provide great service to the people of this community. Our future looks extremely bright,” he says.