In 1976, the Country Express began providing transportation to the residents of Mecosta, Osceola, Lake, and Newaygo counties, and was the first transportation system of its kind in the nation. The Country Express worked in cooperation with existing transportation services in the region, including the City of Big Rapids Dial-a-Ride and Lake County's TRANSPO system (now known as Yates Township Dial-a-Ride) on an experimental basis for a two year period. Although the Country Express closed in 1977, the experimental service clearly demonstrated the need for public transportation in rural areas. Recognizing this need, the Mecosta Rural Transit (MRT) began operations in 1978 as an outgrowth of the Country Express. The Mecosta Rural Transit initially served the senior citizens and disabled residents of Mecosta County, subsequently expanding to meet the needs of all residents throughout the county. In 1983, the Mecosta Rural Transit changed its name to Mecosta County Area Transit (MCAT). In 1984, the Mecosta County Area Transit expanded its service area to include both Mecosta and Osceola counties. In 1985, Mecosta County Area Transit changed its name to Mecosta-Osceola County Area Transit (MOCAT), reflecting the addition of Osceola County the previous year. Buses from MCAT and MOCAT were referred to as the CAT buses, using various versions of a tiger graphic as the logo. The Mecosta Rural Transit and the Mecosta County Area Transit operated with an Advisory Board under the authority of Mecosta County. Mecosta-Osceola County Area Transit operated with an Advisory Board under the authority of both Mecosta and Osceola Counties.
In July 2005, the Mecosta-Osceola County Area Transit was created as an independent transportation Authority with an Authority Board. The new Authority no longer operated under the authority of the two counties. The new Authority was named Mecosta Osceola Transit Authority (MOTA). MOTA retained the white MOCAT buses, changing the graphic to a dark blue rectangle encompassing the name with blue tree leaves on one side of the rectangle. Several years later, the graphic was changed to a colorful circle with a bus in the center flanked by evergreen trees. in 2013, the first non-white bus in recent years was placed into service. The new gold exterior color continues with the current graphic and the name of the Authority spelled out on the sides of the bus in a fresh reflective font. This new look will be maintained as new buses are placed into service.
Throughout the history of the transportation system, operating expenses have been supported by State and Federal operating assistance, contract fares and farebox revenue, with capital expenses being supported by capital grants from various State and Federal grant programs.
In 2010, the Mecosta Osceola Transit Authority entered into an agreement with the Mecosta-Osceola Intermediate School District (MOISD). As a result, both agencies share the services of a mechanic and an assistant, and the MOISD Transportation Department shares the Mecosta Osceola Transit Authority facility.
... where we are ...
The Mecosta Osceola Transit Authority Board of Directors is comprised of six members, three from each county. One member represents the city of Big Rapids and is required to be a resident of the city, one member represents the cities of Evart and Reed City and is required to be a resident of either city, one member from each county traditionally represents the county Board of Commissioners, and one member from each county represents the county residents as an at-large member. Each member must be a resident of the county represented.
The Mecosta Osceola Transit Authority Local Advisory Council is comprised of area residents representing a cross section of senior citizens, minority residents, public transportation providers and users, human service agencies, and those with disabilities.
The Mecosta Osceola Transit Authority operates ten revenue vehicles, including nine medium-duty buses and one small bus. All revenue vehicles are lift-equipped.
In 2016, the Mecosta Osceola Transit Authority began its new Kwik Trips! service, offering sooner starts, shorter trips in the Big Rapids area, including Big Rapids Township and the five surrounding townships in Mecosta County.
... and where we're going!
Moving forward, the goals of the Mecosta Osceola Transit Authority include offering additional origin-to-destination service throughout our two-county service area, adding evening and weekend service, and offering expanded connection options with increased collaboration with neighboring transit agencies.