Transit board judges citizen-submitted bus center names

By Tony Wittkowski | City Reporter | The Times Herald

Blue Water Area Transit asked for names for its new bus center and got a full load of them.

Jim Wilson, Blue Water Area Transit general manager, said that at the Friday deadline, the commission had collected more than 50 suggestions from telephone calls and Facebook posts.

The Blue Water Area Transportation Commission will review the suggestions at its Wednesday meeting and will announce the name by the end of March, Wilson said.

“I’m going to provide my commissioners with a list of those suggestions (Friday),” he said. “If a name is picked, it would be an action by the commission and possibly at the next board meeting or some later date. If they need more time for other possibilities we will have to see what happens.”

The transit authority if having a ground breaking ceremony at 11 a.m. March 16.

Wilson said he couldn’t predict if commissioners would settle on a name Wednesday.

Some of the names suggested were “The Exchange,” “Bus Port,” “The McMorran Acheson Blue Water Transit Center,” “The Illumination Station” and “The Port Huron Bus Center.”

Wilson said he wasn’t surprised by the flood of responses. “It’s nice to know there are people interested enough in the community to call,” he said. “I think there are a lot of good choices here and it’s hard for me to say.”

Anita Ashford, the board’s vice chairwoman and Port Huron councilwoman, said she has heard a few of the submissions, but is looking forward to reviewing the complete list.

“It’s important that we can come up with a name that will reflect our whole area and city,” Ashford said.

Ashford made the motion in the commission’s last meeting to open up the naming process to the city. Ashford felt the choice belonged to residents and wanted to do the right thing by engaging the public.

“I would like to see something everyone could identify with, something that would make a strong connection,” she said. “If we can’t choose one of them, we would have enough input to build around what was received. We are taking this very serious.”

Blue Water Transit began accepting recommendations after its Jan. 21 meeting. Construction of the bus hub will begin construction in March — weather permitting — in the south parking lot of McMorran Place in downtown Port Huron.

A mix of federal, state and local funds will pay for the bus hub: 70 percent with federal funds, 17.5 percent from state funds and the remaining 12.5 percent out of the transit agency’s funds.

The center will provide passengers with a heated waiting area, restrooms and bus schedule displays. It will be staffed with maintenance and security staff during hours of operation.

Blue Water Area Transit bought 3.8 acres in January 2014 for the bus center. The new transfer center will take up about one quarter of that, Wilson said.

Blue Water Area Transit runs a fleet of natural gas buses. In 2014, it had more than 1.33 million riders.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at (810) 989-6270 or twittkowsk@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 23, 2015)

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