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Calhoun commissioners vote to establish a county-wide transportation authority

A black van with the blue and teal logo for BCGo sits in the parking lot of the Battle Creek Transit office. Blue and teal outlines of buildings cover the van, with text on the back window advertising BCGo's mobile app.
Michael Symonds
BCGo was the test pilot program to demonstrate the feasibility of a county-wide on-demand transit program. It proved especially popular in rural areas in Calhoun County.

Calhoun County is one step closer to a county-wide transit system.

The Calhoun County Board of Commissioners voted five-to-two on Thursday to create the Transportation Authority of Calhoun County or TACC.

The vote comes after the success of a pilot program known as BCGo, which has had more 90,000 trip requests since it launched in 2021, according to Battle Creek Transit Mobility Manager Kristy Grestini.

However, the countywide proposal still has some critics. Calhoun County Commissioner Diane Thompson was one of two board members who voted against creating TACC.

“It's difficult to identify what it will cost people, and if state and federal funding doesn't come through, it's even more so on the backs of taxpayers,” Thompson said.

Grestini said that while the current economic climate is not perfect for TACC, the benefits outweigh the costs.

“The cost of owning a vehicle in today's world is only increasing. That rate continues to go up," Grestini said. "Without a service like TACC or this authority that operates a countywide service, we're really limiting the places where individuals can go.”

Municipalities in Calhoun County will have until October 9 to opt out of the authority, with a vote on a millage for those who stay in scheduled for August of next year.

Grestini said she hoped local leaders would consult with all members of their communities before deciding whether to opt-out.   

“Sometimes the voices that they're hearing are not by the individuals who actually rely on the service. Because if transportation is a barrier, transportation is probably a barrier to get them to those meetings,” Grestini said.

Michael Symonds reports for WMUK through the Report for America national service program.

Report for America national service program corps member Michael Symonds joined WMUK’s staff in 2023. He covers the “rural meets metro” beat, reporting stories that link seemingly disparate parts of Southwest Michigan.