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Berrien County wants to streamline transit services into one

NILES, Mich. -

If you're a commuter in Niles or around Berrien County, it can be very difficult to get around. Especially with limited service options after 5pm and on weekends. County officials are hoping to fix that.

The Southwest Michigan planning commission is working on a project called Connect Berrien. The idea is to bring Berrien Bus, Twin Cities Area transit authority, and the Niles and Buchanan Dial-a-ride together under one umbrella to better accommodate commuters. 

"We are looking at a system that's easier to understand, easier to use," said Greg Strangeways, senior associate with the firm heading the project, Nelson\Nygaard. "A system that meets the critical travel needs for people to get to work, shopping and medical appointments. And one that uses all the resources more efficiently."

To get an idea of how this could best serve the community, the planning commission and the consulting firm heading the project have been holding town halls for feedback. They say nothing is off the table at this point. 

"We are looking to integrate services like Uber and Lyft," said Strangeways. "We want to make sure there are better connections to the transit in Michigan City and South Bend. We are just kind of looking at all the options and figuring out what makes the most sense."

The annual operating budget for all these services is over 4 million. County officials believe that can be better utilized.

If all goes well, the project could be completed by early 2018. 

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