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A Tax Renewal For Kalamazoo's Buses Is On The Ballot March 10

A red bus approaches the viewer through a snowy intersection. There are brick buildings in the background.
Sehvilla Mann
/
WMUK

Kalamazoo pays for its bus service in part through a property tax, and that tax is up for renewal on Tuesday. The county is asking for up to 0.9 mills – a slight increase from the current rate of up to 0.75 mills.

The five-year millage would keep the Metro buses running. It would also help fund the transit authority, enabling projects such as an overhaul of the bus stops, some of which are unpaved and difficult for certain riders to access. The county has also been updating signs at the stops.

Kalamazoo expanded service on the current millage, extending evening hours and adding Sunday buses.

The increase in the millage request is due to a drop in state funding, Greg Rosine, the chair of the Central County Transportation Authority, told WMUK.

“Basically what we’re doing is asking the taxpayers of Kalamazoo to take up the shortfall that we receive from the State of Michigan,” Rosine said.

Sean McBride is the executive director of the Metro bus system. He said the buses provide an essential service to riders while indirectly benefiting even people who don't take the bus.

“Public transit has a tremendous economic impact to the community,” McBride said. “The main reason people use bus service is number one get to jobs, number two to get to education and number three, to get to services in the community, for example, medical services.”

About four percent of households in the county don’t have a car, Rosine said, and 23 percent have only one car. Many riders, about 70 percent, use the bus five days a week.

People took about 2.8 million rides on Metro buses last year.

Sehvilla Mann joined WMUK’s news team in January 2014 as a reporter on the local government and education beats. Before that she covered a variety of topics, including environmental issues, for Bloomington, Indiana NPR and PBS affiliates WFIU and WTIU. She’s also written and produced stories for the Pacifica Network and WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Sehvilla holds a B.A. in French from Earlham College and an M.A. in journalism from Indiana University.
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