Benton Harbor Dial-A-Ride mulls cut to call-in bus service

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - Public buses might be going to a fixed-route system in Benton Harbor and not everyone is on board.

Dial-A-Ride, the city’s only form of public transportation offers a call-in pick-up service and a fixed route service. There has been a significant increase in ridership and the newly elected board is thinking about changes.
“Been riding ever since 1975,” said 86-year-old Andrew Booth, one of 700 people who take the bus service every day in Benton Harbor. Booth takes one of the fixed-service routes to get around and rides his bike to the bus stop.“Keeps me in good shape,” he said. “I feel like I’m 20-years-old.”
Other 86-year-olds though might have more of a problem than Booth.
“It would be harder on the elderly people who need to go shopping and stuff like that,” said James Lucas, another avid Dial-A-Ride rider. Lucas said he knows plenty of people who need the door-to-door pickup.
A newly comprised Twin Cities Area Transportation Authority Board talked Thursday about possibly changing the makeup of service. “We’re going to have to come up with a new system,” said Bill Purvis, Dial-A-Ride’s Executive Director. “The demand response is just not keeping up”
Purvis said ridership is up 25% since 2009. He also said no-shows for the call-in service are also increasing. In all, it’s making for longer wait times for riders.
Eliminating personal routes and adding fixed routes could solve the problem. “I don’t think getting new busses is the answer,” said Purvis. “I think we need to change the system somehow.”
Harris appointed himself and two new members to the Twin Cities Area Transportation Authority Board. Thursday was their first meeting since the appointment.

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