Shared from the 10/2/2019 The Benzie County Record Patriot eEdition

On the road to Benzie Bus’s 1 millionth ride


The Benzie Bus has printed 50 1 millionth rider shirts to give to riders during the hour when the 1 millionth rider rides the bus.

(Courtesy photo)

BEULAH — For 12 years, the Benzie Bus has evolved from a brand new county bus system to arguably one of the finest examples of community collaborative public/private busing systems in the nation winning the 2017 National Transit of the Year award.

How has the Benzie Bus gotten there, and what are the indelible impacts the bus makes on the community in terms of economic, environmental, safety and community building.


MDOT estimates that for every $1 dollar investing in public transportation, $3 are returned. In fact, the .5 mills paid by property taxes generates 66 percent ROI or $928,977 in federal and state support last year.

That money, coupled with farebox bus fares, is $1.7 million annually that is directly helping the local economy through salaries, support industries like automotive suppliers and insurance.

For riders, who frequently travel to places like medical appointments or stores, public transportation affords a quality of life, and for some folks, the ability to live independently. In the end, roughly 100,000 rides each year support our service economy and directly pay drivers, dispatchers and managers who live in our community.


Riders don’t generally choose public transportation (buses, trolleys and subways) purely for safety, it’s more often for convenience, cost and necessity but, it is the safest by far compared with other modes, according to an article by Joe Cortez on

According to the article; automobiles are 138 times more risky than riding the bus, the rails are  3.3 times more risky, watercraft are 2.9 times more risky and air travel is 1.9 times more risky.  

But, stats may vary depending on the year and buses and airplanes are consistently the safest.

Bus drivers must hold a certified driver’s license (CDL) and are subjected to random drug and alcohol testing. They have frequent physicals and they are professional drivers.

“We’re constantly monitoring our drivers and have even set-up obstacle courses to improve skills,” said Chad Hollenbeck, operations manager for Benzie Bus. “Some of Benzie’s drivers compete in the bus rodeo at the state level. You and I are more likely to have an accident locally because we are more casual around the roads that we know very well. Texting and cell phones have increased accident rates although, newer cars have anti-accident systems that brake for us and emit audio and visual cues, parking assist and back-up cameras for higher alert, but distracted driving still exists.”

Benzie Bus also partners with local businesses to offer a shuttle service on some of the busiest nights of the year; Halloween weekend and New Year’s Eve until 3 a.m. Almost, 3,000 rides over the past few New Year’s Eves and the summer Crystal Lake Express on Friday and Saturday nights have delivered over 1,000 riders safely home.


Benzie Bus has an 80 percent propane propelled fleet. They received an award and propane burns cleaner, lower CO2 production and costs about $1.30 per gallon. Because buses have more passengers per mile and per hour, they’re a more cost efficient way for everyone to travel.

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