Bay Area Transportation Authority Looks to Improve Services with Millage Increase

For many, public transportation is their lifeline.

That’s why the Bay Area Transportation Authority hopes voters in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties will approve a millage increase to improve their services.

9&10’s Caroline Powers and photojournalist Jeremy Erickson rode along with people who rely on the services.

They have more details on where that money would go.

The Bay Area Transportation Authority has shuttled people around Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties for more than 30 years.

Some of their riders have been with them from the beginning.

“I’ve seen them when they were just a few buses, they just started out and I’ve seen them build as the years go by,” says Herbert Gilliam.

For people like Matthew Moritz, it’s the only way he knows to get around town.

“If it wasn’t for BATA I’d probably be stuck at home,” Moritz says. “I can’t rely on other people that transport me all the time so that’s why BATA is vital to our community.”

Many people in the community rely on BATA services every single day, but they say this bus is more than just their everyday source of transportation.

“We all know each other like first name basis, we all family members, or we’re all neighbors one way or another,” Gilliam says.

Right now BATA is giving about 1,500 rides a day, and they want to do more for their customers.

A millage increase would cost someone with a $200,000 home an extra $16 a year.

“Maybe buses every 15 minutes in certain areas,” says Eric Lingaur, communications manager for BATA. “We’re hearing people from our rural communities wanting more direct door to door connections. We’re also hearing from riders that they want rider friendly technologies that help reduce some of those barriers to use public transportation.”

Other proposed improvements include replacing their aging fleet.

A bonus for the people who ride the bus every day.

“I tell all my friends to ride on the BATA bus,” says Tom Antaya.

People in Grand Traverse and Leelanau County can vote on BATA’s millage request on May 2.

BATA’s current millage rate is 0.3447. They want to increase it to 0.5 mill to provide BATA local funding starting January 2018 and lasting until December 2022.

BATA hasn’t requested a millage increase in more than 14 years.