Public Transit / Amtrak

Public Transit Planning

Today, the region is served by six independent public transit providers, each offering essential services within their designated boundaries. However, the current state reveals inconsistencies in coverage and service levels across the region, leaving many residents and employees without viable public transit options.

Looking ahead, the communities in our region are poised to confront significant challenges over the next decade. These challenges include addressing the needs of an aging population, combating poverty, attracting and retaining young talent, and fostering growth in the regional economy.

SWMPC staff understands that effective strategic planning demands a shared mission and well-defined, achievable goals. This process necessitates a comprehensive assessment of strengths and weaknesses, pinpointing areas for improvement in the delivery of transit services.

A critical element of strategic planning involves acknowledging that transit is an integral component of a broader transportation system. By recognizing the interconnectedness of public transit and an excellent overall transportation system, the successful implementation of planning initiatives becomes more attainable for the region.

How is SWMPC involved in transit planning?

Statewide Human Services Transportation Coordinated Plans

The Coordinated Transportation Plans provide an assessment of available transportation services, and identify mobility needs and potential improvements in each of the 14 designated planning regions in Michigan. Coordination between transportation providers and human service agencies was evaluated to identify opportunities for providing more rides using the same or fewer resources, making transportation easier to use, and giving customers more options of where and when to travel. SWMPC and the MDOT Office of Passenger Transporation are working with KFH Group, a national transportation planning firm that has led similar statewide, regional, and local efforts in Michigan. 

Statewide Mobility Management Strategies

To implement the strategies outlined in the Regional Coordinated Transportation Plans, a Statewide Mobility Management Strategy project is simultaneously being worked on to provide a solid platform for coordination efforts across the 14 regions. SWMPC contracted with Easter Seals Project Action and is working with MDOT Office of Passenger Transportation, and various stakeholders to create a foundation implementation of the Regional Coordinated Plans.

Connect Berrien Transit Service Integration Plan

The Connect Berrien Transit Integration Plan envisions "GoBerrien," a streamlined countywide public transportation system. This plan optimizes resource use, providing residents and employers with a more efficient network. It includes fixed-route services for longer trips and a demand-response system for shorter journeys, operating seven days a week.  The final plan was developed through a collaborative process including multiple public outreach meetings, surveys, and interviews. 

Moving Forward - A Plan for Public Transit in Berrien County

The Berrien County Coordinated Transportation Coalition, made up of 23 members representing 18 organizations, expressed interest in developing a plan to identify opportunities to streamline transit service, simplify and improve access for riders, and create a robust transit system to meet the growing and changing needs of residents. Moving Forward: A Plan for Public Transit in Berrien County is the result, the culmination of a transit consolidation feasibility study. Prepared for Berrien County stakeholders, this plan reviews the issues discussed, considered, and analyzed during the project, and serves as a blueprint for future efforts to provide countywide transit services and to improve mobility in Berrien County.

Passenger Rail Planning

The Southwest Michigan Planning Commission supported the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative that worked collaboratively to develop the Midwest Regional Rail Plan, a new “high level” vision for what intercity passenger rail could look like in the Midwest within 40 years.  SWMPC is a member of  Westrain, a coalition of stakeholders along the Pere Marquee Amtrak passenger rail line that promotes passenger rail service in West Michigan, including improved Amtrak service and marketing for special events such as for the Senior PGA Tour in Benton Harbor. 
Currently Amtrak has three passenger rail lines that service Southwest Michigan, the Pere Marquette (Grand Rapids to Chicago) with stops in Bangor, St. Joseph and New Buffalo and the Wolverine (Detroit to Chicago) and Blue Water (Port Huron to Chicago) with stops in Dowagiac, Niles and New Buffalo. Find out more about passenger rail services in southwest Michigan by visiting Amtrak’s website.