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Emmet County to consider public transit, but idea has its critics

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Downtown Petoskey (File photo: Linda Stephan)

Emmet County Commissioners are talking about public transit tonight.

They’ll hear from the public during a special meeting Thursday night in Petoskey, and consider a variety of options to bring transit to county residents.

That could range from creating a new agency, to establishing a transit authority that could propose taxes to pay for it.

Earlier this year, a handful of township boards wrote strong letters opposing the idea of a transit authority.

Read some of the letters for and against public transit. (PDF)

They’re worried about being taxed for services that they say will only serve places like Petoskey and Harbor Springs.

"And that is not true," said Martha Lancaster, with the group Friends Enhancing Emmet Transit, or FEET for short. They're advocating in favor of a public transit system.

“It’s definitely been the vision of those who’ve worked on this that there be transit services serving all parts of the county," she said.

Lancaster points out that groups outside city limits are also in favor. The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, for example, wrote a letter in support of the plan last year.

“They particularly would like to see service to the northwest part of the county, because that’s where a lot of tribal citizens live," Lancaster said. "So they would be willing to help subsidize some routes that might not otherwise be economically viable but would serve everybody in that part of the county.”

It’s unclear whether commissioners will make any decisions at Thursday night's special meeting. The discussion starts at 6:30, inside the Petoskey Middle School Auditorium.

Ed Ronco is IPR's news director.