Saginaw transit routes get boost as Memorial Cup approaches

A plan to operate buses on a 15-minute interval loop from the Dow Event Center through downtown Saginaw and Old Town during the 2024 Memorial Cup is getting $27,000.

The funds are coming from the Saginaw Downtown Development Authority, said Glenn Steffens, Saginaw Transit Authority Regional Services executive director.

The funding will help offer citizens and visitors a cost-free, convenient means of travel to stops like the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, Hoyt Library, the Saginaw Children’s Zoo, Old Town Saginaw, the Saginaw Art Museum, and the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum during the Memorial Cup festivities from May 23-June 2 next year, Steffens said.

This is just another in a host of fixed routes in the Saginaw metro area made possible through support from community partners, Steffens said.

“This is what Saginaw deserves and what we’ve been fighting for,” he said.

Steffens said the partnerships with specialized services and working to change the business model have been key in STARS’s growth.

“This type of work has enabled us to go from a $6 million (annual) budget in 2016 to a $12 million (annual) budget today,” Steffens said.

STARS offers 10 fixed routes in addition to its regular routes. Specialized services include paratransit (lift) for residents ages 60 and older or people with disabilities, with a fare of $2 each way.

Another service, The Pigeon Express, transports riders to the Pigeon area for foundry work, collaborating with local employers to reduce the cost to $6 or $7 per day.

The Silicon Express route, which is subsidized by Hemlock Semiconductor Corp., offers transportation to and from the employers’ location in Hemlock multiple times per day, with employees contributing $15 per pay period for the service.

STARS also operates the Frankenmuth Express, made possible through funding from the Downtown Development Authority and Economic Development Corp. of Frankenmuth. This route runs four times daily for free on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 23.

The Delta Direct service shuttles Delta College employees and students holding a Delta identification card to and from the City of Saginaw directly to Delta’s main campus.

Nine new buses are currently in production in California, thanks to a $5 million grant, Steffens said. These buses are expected to be in service next year.