Shared bus service draws complaint

SUTTONS BAY, Mich. – A national transportation group has filed a federal complaint against a partnership between Suttons Bay Public Schools and the Bay Area Transportation Authority under which BATA provides busing for students, according to the Leelanau Enterprise.

Suttons Bay leases former school buses to BATA, which paints them white and uses them to provide student transportation, according to Enterprise reports. The arrangement saved Suttons Bay about $300,000 last year, partly due to federal transportation grants, according to the reports.

The National School Transportation System, an organization of bus manufacturers and private transportation providers, filed a federal complaint saying that the arrangement breaks federal rules that require public transit to be open to the public at large, the Enterprise reported. The NSTA hired a private investigator to act as a “plant” on a BATA bus to verify public access, the report said.

A BATA official said that the routes are open to both students and the general public and that the fact that the investigator successfully got on and off the bus negates NSTA’s case, the Enterprise reported.

NSTA members believe they should have had the opportunity to provide student bus service privately, according to one Enteprise report.


Leelanau Enterprise, “Lawsuit over busing won’t open doors,” July 14, 2011

Leelanau Enterprise, “National group files complaint over BATA’s school deal,” July 8, 2011


Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “Michigan School Privatization Survey 2010