Why 100s of Flint Area Workers are being Bused into Livingston County

Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily

Most people sit alone, plugged into earbuds, scrolling through Facebook or grabbing a nap as the comfortable commuter bus hums along the highway during the 40-minute ride from Flint to Howell.

Belinda Patrick and William Paschal of Flint are the exception, sitting close, almost leaning into one another. They share a home, ride the same bus and work the same shift at Grupo Antolin North America, an automotive supplier in Howell Township.

“I usually sleep. Or balance my budget. Stuff like that,” said Patrick, one of hundreds of Genesee County residents now using Flint’s Mass Transportation Authority for a ride to and from jobs in Howell, Brighton and the Lansing area. “It’s a cool down time, you know, a chance to sit back and let someone else do the driving.”

Livingston County business and community leaders say the bus program helps mitigate a labor crunch that has employers scrambling to fill shifts, competing for workers and recently left one large manufacturer pondering a move out of Livingston County.

The labor shortage issue surfaced in 2015 after a survey of Livingston County employers indicated many – especially manufacturers – had more entry-level jobs than they could fill and needed help getting people to and from work.

In fact, data compiled by Ann Arbor SPARK shows a whopping 75% increase in Livingston County manufacturing jobs over a four-year period. In 2012, a total of 7,186 positions existed among the county’s 400 manufacturers. By 2016, the number had risen to 12,573.

Continue reading at Livingston Daily: Why 100s of Flint Area Workers are being Bused into Livingston County by Laura Colvin

COMTO National Meeting & Training Conference

The Committee of Minority Transportation Officials will hold its 2017 Annual Meeting and Training Conference July 14 - 18 in Detroit. This year’s theme is a timely and interesting one, “Smart Transportation”.

Those interested can access the link below for details to attend as a new member, non-member, sponsor, exhibitor, advertiser, or presenter.

MTA Receives Innovation in Transportation Award

The Innovation in Transportation Award was presented to the Mass Transportation Authority at the Howell Chamber Annual Meeting held on Thursday, January 26th . The award was given in recognition of the partnership that has formed between the various partners and the counties. The Chamber identified 300-400 new employees that have started jobs in the Howell community as the result of this new transportation program. Additional employers are working with the MTA to expand service further and address the needs of several hundred workers from the Flint/Genesee area that will commute to Howell/Livingston County daily.

In December 2015, business, nonprofit and transportation officials partnered to connect job needs in Livingston County to Flint residents who were willing to work, but had no vehicle to get to the job location. The public-private partnership is something that the Mass Transportation Authority has been involved since the agency started regional transportation. Since 1997, the MTA has transported workers to jobs in different counties. As the counties demographics and jobs change, the need for regional transportation continues to grow. “It’s my estimation that within the next year our work related commuter services, now serving 7 counties, will grow to 5000 unique riders per day and 10,000 individual trips, generating 2-3 million work related trips annually,” Ed Benning, MTA General Manager/CEO, said. “The Howell Chamber has been a great partner in this new service expansion and we appreciate this opportunity.”

Flint MTA Unveils Proterra Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Flint’s Mass Transportation Authority unveiled a Proterra Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle on Friday, October 21, 2016. The vehicle is in Flint for a year and is on a pilot/test program. Part of the study will be to see how the bus tests in a cold environment as it has only been run in warmer climates.

The bus will be tested on different routes in the city of Flint. Part of the study includes checking the vehicle’s fuel consumption as well. The vehicle is highly technical and will be monitored by an on-site Proterra mechanic.

The bus is the result of a collaborative partnership under the National Fuel Cell Bus Program, a Federal Transit Administration program aimed at energizing the transit industry by investing in zero emission hydrogen fuel cell buses.

Built on top of Proterra’s standard electric recharge the onboard batteries keep the bus running throughout the service day. Each fuel cell system can independently power the bus on a majority of transit routes, providing additional system reliability. The hydrogen fuel used is produced through steam reforming natural gas. One kilogram of hydrogen has an energy content of 116,000 BTU, equivalent to one gallon of gas.

This hydrogen source can have a well to pump energy efficiency of 75%. Combined with a bus efficiency approaching 50%, this bus uses the energy in natural gas more efficiently than a conventional bus running on natural gas.

It’s top speed is 55 mph, and with the battery and hydrogen has a range of 280 miles. The range using the battery only is 30 miles. The vehicle seats 35 passengers.

Flint’s Mass Transportation Authority continues to be on the forefront of working with and using alternative fuel vehicles.

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