Muskegon Metro Area News
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Muskegon is very fortunate to have the MATS Public Transit System.  No, it's not perfect, nothing is, however, public transportation in a community this size is an essential part of life and while the "big cities" are much more in tune with public transit than we are, some assurance of getting people around is a very big part of making any community stronger, and to have kept an organization going for half a century, well, that's a reason to mark an occasion. 



I opened with the idea that "it's not perfect". While the shoe is never a proper fit when you are working with so many different needs and times, the not perfect part is a huge part of this story.  To have kept an organization going in a community that's been up and down like we have, through the good times and bad is really something to celebrate.  There have been those who have tried to shut down the system for years, there have been pandemics that popped up and kept people home, there have been route expansions and contractions and a lot of really smart people working very diligently to get to the 50 year mark.  That's a celebration.  

What you may not know about MATS is some of the things behind the scenes.  There are drivers who have been there 30+ years.  There are dedicated mechanics that keep the service moving all year long.  The Director Jim Koens who you'll hear from today, he's been there 25 of the 50 years and it speaks volumes of the dedication of the staff to the service they provide.  In the 25 years Jim has been at the helm, 2 days come to mind that they had to close for weather, and that's about that.  The drivers are well known by the patrons and becoming a patron myself today for the first time, let me tell you...what an experience.  

It's not that I've never been on a bus....I have never ridden a bus route.  Like many others, I grew up in a rural setting and other that school, that was about my time with busses.  Today, was my first ride and from an observational stand point...I learned so much.  1)  The people on the bus.  Remarkably friendly for the most part.  Some wished to keep to themselves, and that's fine.  The group I rode with...very social, very friendly and honestly, great conversationalists and had things to share.  Some even shared ideas I took back to help improve the service.  2)  The route itself.  What a tour through the city.  We went from the Downtown Terminal all through town out to Henry and Norton and back. I've been here a while and I saw new things today just by looking out the window.  It was really amazing to see town from a viewpoint off my beaten path.  3)  The riders themselves have a group.  They know one another, they seem to have regular interaction and engagement and build friendships along the way.  

Our MATS Public Transit System is an amazing example of always working to improve.  The upstream swim that they face is huge, but they do it with innovation, dedication and a level of service that is pretty exceptional for the size of metro they serve.  As we build and grow, the MATS System will too.  We are thankful for their support of our work as well as the support of our community.  Here's to the next 50 years of the Muskegon Area Transit System. 


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