By Rick Charmoli
CADILLAC — About 15 to 20 riders are already taking advantage of a new program offered by the Cadillac-Wexford Transit Authority that should improve service for its customers.
CWTA Executive Director Carrie Thompson and the CWTA hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday for the new Night Rider program, which offers evening rides to Wexford County residents. Thompson said 15 to 20 riders requested rides for the service’s first day which was Monday. Most were using it to get to and from work, she said.
“We actually have people on all three evening buses,” Thompson said. “We have people being picked up as late as 11:18 p.m.”
Thompson recently informed the Wexford County Board of Commissioners that extended service times would begin on Nov. 28, and Monday’s open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated that milestone.
The new service will be available until midnight Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.
Thompson said the night service is part of the CWTA’s plan to improve services for riders. The plan was created after focus groups were held last year. The other parts of the plan include dependability, which is addressed with the CWTA’s new dispatch system, and more coverage in rural areas.
“We have lifted all travel restrictions in our out-county areas, and they have been taking advantage of that all day (Monday),” she said.
Thompson has said none of the CWTA’s millage money is going to be needed to fund this extended service time, thanks to a Job Access Reverse Commute grant through the Michigan Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration. The grant, about $160,000, covers the next six years.
“We are really excited to deliver on the promise to the people of Wexford County to offer better service and more hours,” Thompson said.
For more information about the program or to learn more about the CWTA, call (231) 775-9411 or log on to www.cwta.us.