Skip to Main

BATA, Benzie Bus Unfazed by Rising Gas Prices

Gas Pumps

As gas prices rise to all-time highs, commuters in Benzie, Leelanau and Grand Traverse Counties are worried about the affect the increase in prices will have on bus fares.

The Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) and Benzie Bus say they’re expecting a higher demand in public transit.

“We would expect to see a rise in demand and more carpooling. Traditionally, in America, people start to make those adjustments when the costs get this high,” says Bill Kennis, executive director of Benzie Bus.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Americans have seen an average increase of 75 cents at the gas pump.

In Michigan, the state has seen an increase of 52 cents in the past week,  and a 90 cent increase in the past month.

“Fuel prices are always a tricky thing, especially when you put on a lot of miles like a public transit agency,” says Eric Lingaur, communications and development director at BATA.

Although gas prices have increased to never-before-seen highs, Kennis says Benzie Bus is not worried.

Buses in Benzie run on propane, and propane currently costs considerably less than gas and diesel. Because of that, fuel only makes up for 8% of Benzie Bus’s budget.

“We don’t see it effecting our services at all,” Kennis says. “We’ll be running full steam ahead and we would even increase the TC Express as the demand would dictate,” Kennis said.

While Benzie County is ready for the increase in riders, BATA says they’re not sure they will.

Lingaur says right now they’re able to keep up with the demand, but if it grows that may change.

“We won’t be able to add any additional services or expand routes or things like that, because we just don’t have enough staff right now,” Lingaur explains.

Even with the rise in gas prices and a shortage in bus drivers, Benzie and BATA says riders in northwest Michigan won’t see an increase in fares.

“BATA will be running routes, we’ll be taking people wherever they need to go. If fuel prices are getting a little tight on the pocket book, we’ll have an alternative transportation option that’s available for them,” Lingaur says.