Commission Shoots Down Michigan Flyer Grant With 9-9 Vote

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

With more than two hours of discussion behind it, the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission was ready to vote, Wednesday night.

After each member had their say, the vote came to a 9-9 tie...not good enough for Michigan Flyer, owned by Indian Trails, to receive nearly $600,000 in grant money.

"I would say that this is probably the first time in the history of this commission that they have voted to turn away a grant that's already been awarded for a region," said Indian Trails Vice President, Chad Cushman. "They basically said, 'Send it back to Washington D.C.'"

The federal grant would have allowed Michigan Flyer to buy another bus and extend the number of round trips between East Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro Airport from eight to 12.

Since the grant was awarded, last August, the Capital Region Airport Authority has led the opposition. The top concern being how would more runs to Detroit Metro affect Capital Region International?

"Over time, continued erosion of air passengers does end up with the elimination of air service," said Robert F. Selig of the Capital Region Airport Authority. "Airlines leave and once they leave, they don't generally come back."

Concern over the loss of air passengers was the deciding factor for many on the commission as they voted, including Darrell Tennis, out of Eaton county, who voted 'no'.

"You always hate to turn down a grant from anywhere, but it really doesn't work that way when it comes down to what's best for our region," he said.

However, Michigan Flyer, says more runs would only offer better options for those who live in Mid-Michigan and with a motion of reconsideration, the commission could take up the issue, again, at its next meeting.

Company President Gordon Mackay urges members to look at strong public support beforehand.

"There were 400 to 600 letters that went in and I encourage them before the next meeting to read each one."

The commission, which next meets June 26th, was missing a member at Wednesday's meeting and that could be the deciding factor if it chooses to re-vote.

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