On September 28th, 2020, the Muskegon Area Transit System (MATS) launched a completely redesigned fixed-route transit network designed and planned by Foursquare ITP. This exciting day was the culmination of an 18-month process that began with a Route Study and Comprehensive Operational Analysis (COA) that we conducted.

Foursquare ITP examined all aspects of transit service in the Muskegon region, including service performance and funding sustainability for a system that had not been substantially revised since 1974. We conducted a comprehensive assessment of MATS’ existing fixed-route and demand-response transit network, as well as the market for transit in the Muskegon region, to determine the system’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

Based on these analyses, the Foursquare ITP team developed recommendations for a right-sized and simplified transit network with fixed-route service at its core, complemented by ADA paratransit service where required, and app-based microtransit service where supported by local communities. The redesigned system was centered on the concept that market-based service that is easy to understand, reliable, seamless, and direct—while equitably serving the region—will result in more satisfied customers, attract new riders, and support the operational needs of the agency.

Key features of the redesigned MATS network include the following:

  • Simplified and streamlined network featuring bi-directional service on every route.
  • Extensive use of interlines to ensure that most riders have a one-seat ride to key destinations such as grocery stores and healthcare facilities.
  • Direct service from the downtown transit hub to the region’s largest mall (previously required a transfer).
  • Hourly pulse at the downtown transit hub to facilitate seamless connections between any two routes.
  • Reduced fixed-route service area, focusing on corridors with the highest ridership potential.
  • App-based microtransit service to complement fixed-route service and provide jurisdiction-wide service coverage for participating communities.

In addition to developing an updated service plan that reflects and supp`orts the current mobility needs of the Muskegon region, the Foursquare ITP team developed an equitable financial plan designed to incentivize the establishment of coalitions of communities to collectively fund fixed-route and microtransit services.

Early rider reviews of the redesigned fixed-route network have been very positive. The addition of microtransit service is expected in early 2021, with an RFP for the service already on the street.