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Berrien County considering expanding bus services

NILES, Mich – Connect Berrien is putting their plan of expanding bus service to the test by traveling around the county to pitch their ideas to the citizens of Berrien County.

“I think the presentation gave us a lot of information on what the plan is to move forward on how to get a lot of residents in the county to a lot of places that were difficult before” Benton Harbor resident Ray Lipscomb said.

Connect Berrien’s plan is to create daily service and combine the county’s four bus systems which includes Berrien Bus, along with the Niles, Berrien an Buchanan Dial-A-Ride.

“Where will the $2 million dollars come from?” a Berrien County resident said at the meeting.

The Connect Berrien committee says funding has not been determined for the approximately $6 million dollar plan but it may include a county wide millage which Benton Harbor, Niles and Buchanan already have locally.

Committee member Pat Brandstatter says the plan will only move forward if the community supports it.

“In order to get a decision made that services all of the people, I think it’s the people, a grassroots type of thing that needs to determine whether it’s a good idea or bad idea and if they like it that’s how our officials should be moving forward” Brandstatter said.

Berrien County resident Judy Corak said she thinks it’s important to expand service and she wants to hear how the committee will do it.

“I’m hoping that it is a plan for all of Berrien County. I think it is important for people that need the transportation to be able to access it all through the county” Corak said.

Thursday evening the plan will be pitched in Benton Harbor at the Southwest Michigan planning commission office to try to gain more support.

According to Pat Brandstatter after holding the “Connect Berrien” meetings it will be up to Berrien County officials on how and when to move forward with a plan to be voted on.

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