County Board Gives Go-Ahead to Build New Bus Terminal Downtown

Andrew Trzaska | October 1, 2011

Plans are moving forward to build an expanded bus transit terminal on the site of the existing Herman Ivory Transfer Terminal on Morris Avenue in downtown Muskegon.

Muskegon County Commissioners authorized the Muskegon Area Transit System to work on acquiring land plus other steps to move forward with building the facility at Tuesday’s full board meeting.

Local architect firm Hooker DeJong has contributed to conceptualizing the new terminal, which currently is slated be much longer than the existing location. This will allow more buses to park at the terminal for loading, unloading and passenger transfers.  While the design is not finalized, plans indicate it will have an oval-shaped drive layout, so passengers can transfer between buses with a shorter walk.

While MATS will be the primary user of the facility, the new terminal will also continue to be Muskegon’s Greyhound bus service hub.

The county has secured over $2 million in grant funding. While plans have changed for what that grant money is to be used for – a downtown parking ramp has been eliminated – the grant money still allocated must be used by the end of 2012.

The county had previously looked at other places, including the downtown Fifth Third Bank site.  The consulting firm hired by the county recommended earlier this year that the county build at the existing terminal location.

The county will be looking to purchase land on the northeast and southwest corners of the terminal.

This go-ahead comes at a time when MATS is seeing increased ridership and is changing some key parts of its operations.

As of end of July 2011, ridership on fixed routes including the trolley bus was up 15% from July 2010.

Starting October 1, MATS switched to fixed stops indicated by roadside signs on its existing fixed routes.  This will replace the current system of flagging down a moving bus.  The GOBus component of the bus system will not change because it is not on a fixed route.

Night routes added last year have also proved successful, with statistics from earlier this year indicating a 153% increase in ridership over the same time last year.

County Administrator Bonnie Hammersley indicated at Tuesday’s meeting that bids would be solicited for design and construction of the new facility, which she will oversee.

Andrew Trzaska

103.7 “The Beat” – local government beat reporter and political analyst