Indian Trails will link passengers to Beaver Island ferry, national train service

From The Charlevoix Courier:

A new bus service will roll into Charlevoix on Aug. 1.

Charlevoix City Council members unanimously voted Monday to approve an Indian Trails proposal to develop an official bus stop in downtown Charlevoix. The stop will be at the northern end of the Beaver Island Boat Company building on Bridge Park Drive and the ferry business will serve as the bus service’s local ticket agent.

“It will be a nice little addition,” said mayor Norman “Boogie” Carlson Jr.

City manager Rob Straebel said city staff members highly support the coming bus service as a way to bring more visitors to the community and allow for an important link to the Beaver Island ferry service.

“There are no concerns. We have looked at every aspect of this,” he said.

The plan is for Indian Trail buses to turn onto Bridge Park Drive near the drawbridge and stop, but not spend more than a few minutes parked along the curb. As soon as passengers are loaded or unloaded, the bus will immediately carry on its route, said Kenneth Henry, Indian Trails’ vice-president of operations.

One route will take passengers north to Petoskey, across the Upper Peninsula and to Milwaukee, while another will go south to Traverse City, Grand Rapids and Chicago, both connecting to Amtrak’s national passenger train system. Also, Charlevoix is not unfamiliar territory for the regional bus service company, as Indian Trails has long served Northern Michigan, Henry said.

However, he said the Owosso-based company maintains high expectations for the new Charlevoix bus stop.

“We think it’s going to be very popular,” Henry said.

Donald Monteith, of Charlevoix and Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers’ regional chairman for Northern Michigan, said he is thrilled about the new bus stop. This is the second time the idea came up and he’s pleased it found success this week, he said.

Additionally, Monteith said he expects the bus service to prove useful for those hoping to avoid increasing fuel prices or older folks who simply don’t wish to drive long distances.

“I’d rather sit there and read a book than do the driving,” he said.

Charlevoix soon will appear on national train and bus service timetables, printed 5 million times each year, officials said.

Margo Marks, ferry company president, said officials there are eager for the new bus service and what it will mean for both Charlevoix and Beaver Island.

“It’s great for Charlevoix. It will bring some more people in and they’ll be linked with Beaver Island,” she said.

Henry said Indian Trails will advertise travel to the new Charlevoix bus stop as a combination trip with ferry service to the Lake Michigan island.

City officials also discussed Indian Trails’ request to hang a bus stop sign on the ferry company’s northern exterior wall. City planner Mike Spencer said city rules will allow such a sign — so long as it doesn’t exceed 30 square feet — but the company must first apply for a permit.

City attorney Jim Young reminded Indian Trails officials that the city council’s approval of the new bus service and stop does not relieve their responsibility to seek that sign permit. Henry said they would apply for such a sign permit within a week.

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