New MATS Bus Stops Create Challenges For Those With Decreased Mobility

Andrew Trzaska | November 17, 2011

Muskegon County’s new bus stop system may help people know where to get on board, but new concerns about how to get on board are being raised.

Just over a month ago, the Muskegon Area Transit System (MATS) switched from a flag-down system anywhere on a bus route to discrete spots indicated by new signs all around the county.

A blind Muskegon County resident spoke at Thursday’s county transportation committee meeting pointing out some of the logistical issues that those with limited mobility face now that buses cannot be flagged down at any point.

The new MATS bus stops are currently posted every 2 to 4 blocks.  In numerous high-traffic places there are no sidewalks including East Sherman Avenue, Hoyt Street and Apple Avenue.

The resident cited a lack of snow-shoveling ordinances in the Cities of Muskegon and Muskegon Heights as a barrier to bus access for the blind, those in wheelchairs and other mobility challenges.  The power of snowplows can also push snow into designated bus waiting spaces as well, upsetting any efforts to clear away snow from the stops.

Moreover, the issue is not strictly limited to cold months; the resident cited a lack of sidewalks in townships and villages as a barrier to accessing buses.  Tall, uncut grass can interfere with the new stops as well. Furthermore, the county’s taxi services all do not currently offer wheelchair lifts for transport.

The resident contrasted Muskegon County with cities including Detroit and South Bend, indicating their bus routes have stops with less distance in between them or require weed and snow removal to make bus stops easy to access.

Earlier in the meeting, the transportation committee did pass an approval of a seasonal position to work on clearing sidewalks and bus stops.  Providing suggestions for a future improvement, the resident asked the county to look at ways to improve the county’s infrastructure, starting with sidewalks.

Andrew Trzaska

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