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Disability Advocates holds coffee with township supervisors to discuss public transit

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Panel discussion with township supervisors to discuss the importance of public transit from 9-10:30 AM on Monday, May 16th, 2016 at Orchard Hill Church.
The Rapid Go!Bus helped some attendees get to the event.

The Rapid Go!Bus helped some attendees get to the event. /Cody Brinkert

Township Supervisors Panel Discussion on Public Transit

Monday, May 16th from 10:00-11:30 AM 

Orchard Hill Church

Register Here

Event details.

Event details. /Cody Brinkert

Legislators answering tough questions about public transit at the March legislative coffee.

Legislators answering tough questions about public transit at the March legislative coffee. /Cody Brinkert

Disability Advocates of Kent County, Faith in Motion, Concerned Citizens for Improved Transportation, and the Kent County Essential Needs Task Force have joined together to host a five part coffee series with elected leaders from various levels of government to discuss public transit. At the March coffee event, over 80 community participants came together and urged our state representatives and senators to create an equitable funding system for public transportation. We are so excited to be continuing this discussion with Kent County township supervisors at our next event on Monday, May 16th, 2016!

The need for public transit in Kent County is growing. Today, one in three commuters in our region do not have access to a car. Either they can’t afford it, or they have a disability that prevents them from driving or they are at an age where they cannot legally drive or it is no longer safe for them to do so. Ensuring that the nearly 200,000 Kent County residents without cars have access to employment, services, and recreation is vital to continuing our region’s success story.

In Michigan, when transit service is provided by a regional transit authority, cities or townships have the ability to “opt-out” of that transportation service area. This means that township boards have the power to decide if The Rapid or North Kent Transit is a part of their community or not. Townships range in size and budgets, so many have to make tough economic choices on where to spend the public’s money. In some townships, leaders have to choose between having a 9-1-1 service and funding local transit. We understand that this is a tough choice to make.

We want to make sure townships in Kent County make decisions with residents of their community and region in mind, ensuring that the one-third of commuters who do not have cars have the same opportunities to employment, services, and recreation. We realize the limitations and obstacles that counties are facing, which is why we are not advocating for another fixed route, like the buses you see on the streets of downtown Grand Rapids. Our townships need a flexible system that can adapt to their needs. Our hope is to open the dialogue between supervisors, transit providers, and their constituents, so we can find a solution that works for everyone.

If you are interested in discussing the importance of public transit please join us for coffee with our township supervisors next Monday, May 16, from 10 to 11:30 am at Orchard Hill Reformed Church (1465 Three Mile Rd NW in Grand Rapids). All township supervisors from Kent County were invited, we have received confirmation from Alpine Township Supervisor Alex Arends, Plainfield Township Supervisor Jay Spencer, Grattan Township Supervisor Franklin Force, Cascade Township Supervisor Rob Beahan, and Courtland Township Supervisor Charles Porter. Before the panel, we will have guests share their experience with local public transportation as well as a short presentation including new data provided by the Community Research Institute on transit needs within the county. Register for the event by May 12th here: Township Coffee.

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