By Rick Charmoli
CADILLAC — The Cadillac-Wexford Transit Authority is kicking off a new era that should improve service for its customers.
CWTA Executive Director Carrie Thompson recently informed the Wexford County Board of Commissioners that extended service times will begin on Nov. 28, and on Monday, the CWTA is hosting an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate that milestone. The event will be held at the CWTA offices, 951 Casa Road, with a ribbon-cutting at 4:30 p.m. and the open house continuing until 6 p.m. Light refreshments will be served.
The new service will be available until midnight Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The CWTA is calling the new service its Night Rider program.
"We have been working on many items since our focus groups met about a year ago," Thompson said. "The three things the community wanted to see was more dependability, which we worked on with our new dispatch system; more service, which the extended hours addresses; and more coverage in our rural areas. Before, we had travel restrictions where we were out to places like Harrietta, Boon and the Mesick area at certain times. With the new dispatch system, (those customers) have access to buses all day long."
Thompson has said none of the CWTA’s millage money is going to be needed to fund this extended service time thanks to funding from the Michigan Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration through a Job Access Reverse Commute grant. The grant, about $160,000, is for the next six years, and Thompson said it is attached to CWTA’s master agreement.
Every six years, the CWTA composes a master agreement pledging to follow all MDOT rules in order to receive grants or any funding from MDOT. The grant funding is now attached to it, Thompson said. She also said CWTA has the ability each year to apply for different amounts, but it will typically be around $160,000.
For more information about the program or to learn more about the CWTA call (231) 775-9411 or log on to www.cwta.us.