By Charlene Kowalski, Director, Marketing/Customer Service, MTA
Over the past 40 years, the Mass Transportation Authority has been the agency supplying transportation services to the people of Genesee County. But, within the last year, the MTA has taken on new projects, which are providing new kinds of service to the community. Faced with a community water crisis, the MTA has played a significant role, offering multiple services aimed at improving the life of residents. From providing water to Flint residents at the transportation center to daily transporting 216 workers who are involved with visiting homes in the Flint community to provide water filter installation or replacement, the MTA has continued to take part in assisting those in need.
A different type of need came about in 2015, when grocery stores in the community started to close, creating what is known as “food deserts.” The MTA developed the Rides to Groceries program for those in our community affected by store closures and the onset of those food deserts. In 2016, the program was expanded countywide and has received national attention.
“The Mass Transportation Authority exists for the purpose of providing essential services that address the changing needs in our community, including access to groceries,” says Ed Benning, MTA general manager/CEO. “We wanted to make sure that people have options for shopping, which is why we will provide the transportation to various stores.” The aim today is to make sure that people have a way to access groceries as many individuals are isolated in their homes and have no way to get to grocery stores that have moved to the outlying suburbs.
vBecause of this, MTA knew there were other services that were desperately needed in the community. Through working with health care officials, the MTA developed multiple programs addressing Rides to Wellness, including Non-Emergency Medical Transportation rides and Rides to Wellness routes linking fixed route services to multiple medical facilities.
In September of 2016 the MTA expanded its Rides to Wellness service, providing same day demand response. This service provides medical trips within 30 minutes of the request. In December of 2016 this new same day medical service provided over 2,000 trips and was estimated to exceed 4,500 trips in March 2017. Future expansion is expected to provide 1,000 same day trips per day by June 2018 and 2,500 trips per day by October 2019. The MTA has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback regarding this new program.v
These new services will provide increased ridership, jobs and economic growth to our area and MTA plans on being a part of it all.” — Ed Benning
In addition, the MTA has expanded its Rides to Work program, adding new service to Lansing and additional routes to Livingston County, to address the 1,000–1,500 workers filling open positions in these areas. This expansion was possible due to the development of primary and secondary stakeholder consortiums bringing multiple partners to the table, including representatives from the governor’s office, Michigan Department of Transportation, local Chambers of Commerce, businesses and the metropolitan planning organizations from adjoining counties.
The MTA has developed a number of partnerships, which include local colleges, businesses, social services and hospitals, among others. The MTA has also partnered with Consumers Energy for the expansion of the MTA’s Grand Blanc alternative fueling facility. In this effort, Consumers Energy will utilize some consent decree funds to build an expanded public/private station at the MTA Alternative Fuel Facility.
“We are very fortunate to be in a place where partnerships with organizations, agencies and businesses can all work together for the betterment of the community,” Benning says. “These new services will provide increased ridership, jobs and economic growth to our area and MTA plans on being a part of it all.”
For more information, contact Ed Benning, MTA general manager/CEO, at 810-780-8813.