BATA’s Board Prepares For the Future of Public Transit


DATE:            March 13, 2023

CONTACT:        Eric Lingaur 231-933-5534 or 734-968-6210


BATA’s Board Adapts to Upcoming Changes Impacting Public Transit

Including Construction of a New HQ, the Transition to a Small Urban System and

Expanding BATA’s Board from Seven to Nine Members


In addition to breaking ground on a new headquarters and operations center in the spring, the Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) has other changes on the horizon for 2023 and 2024. These include transitioning from the current designation of a rural transit system to a small urban system and the expansion of BATA’s Board of Directors from seven to nine members to better meet the needs of the community.


With many changes on the way, BATA’s Board believes it’s in the organization’s best interest to select two new at-large members in a timely manner. This will allow the new members to review BATA’s finances, funding, planning, and processes as these new projects commence.


There are several narratives about BATA being discussed in public spaces currently. Some of these narratives do not contain all the facts. The information below provides further clarification of some of the questions being asked in the community and the media.


Composition of BATA’s Board of Directors

  • 4 representatives appointed by Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners
  • 2 representatives appointed by Leelanau County Board of Commissioners
  • 3 representatives at-large selected by BATA’s Board of Directors
  • BATA’s Board of Directors approved expanding the board from seven to nine members at BATA’s February 2023 Board of Directors Meeting, which added 2 new at-large positions


Continued Elected Oversight from Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties

Six (two-thirds) of BATA’s Board seats continue to be appointed by the Grand Traverse and Leelanau County Commissions, (4) and (2), respectively. BATA’s Board is responsible for selecting the remaining 3 at-large positions by a majority vote.


Members At-Large

In BATA’s case a member at-large is a board member that is selected by majority vote of BATA’s Board. BATA has had an at-large member position on its Board for more than 20 years. Having at-large positions provides flexibility and allows the BATA Board to review its overall composition when filling at-large openings and search for the most qualified candidates to fill representation and skillset gaps. BATA Administration does not have control over who or how the at-large members are chosen. Administration can only provide recommendations to BATA’s Board where they see gaps existing. For example, BATA’s Board does not currently have any Traverse City or multi-modal representation.


BATA and Public Act 196

In 1996 BATA was established as an independent authority formed under Public Act 196 of 1986. Since 1996 BATA’s Articles of Incorporation have outlined that the BATA Board of Directors can amend their articles or bylaws at any time with a two-thirds vote of the BATA Board. In 1999 BATA’s Articles of Incorporation were amended to change from township representation to county representation and establish BATA’s previous board configuration of seven members: four from Grand Traverse County, two from Leelanau County and one at-large member. BATA is a public benefit agency and an instrumentality of the State of Michigan. BATA is its own authority and does not require Grand Traverse or Leelanau County Commission approval to make board decisions.


BATA Board Expansion Timeline

The process to expand BATA’s Board from seven to nine members has been in process since 2021 and is not a direct result of any recent Grand Traverse or Leelanau County Board of Commissioners’ individual appointments to BATA’s Board.

  • Fall 2021: BATA held a board retreat with all BATA Board Members present. At the retreat, Woodside Strategies consultants offered recommendations to improve BATA’s Board functionality and give the board better community representation. Recommendations from this session included forming a Governance Committee, adding policies and moving to a nine-member board composition, all of which BATA’s Board has done. Woodside Strategies was paid $2,800.
  • July 2022: BATA’s Governance Committee discussed modifying BATA’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. The modification discussed included the expansion of BATA’s Board to nine members. Minutes from the July Governance Committee meeting and an update from the Governance Committee Chair were shared at the full BATA Board of Directors July 2022 meeting.
  • January 2023: BATA’s Governance Committee met and presented revised drafts of BATA’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws to the full BATA Board at their January meetings that included expansion to a 9-member board. No comments from the January drafts were received.
  • February 2023: Final drafts of BATA’s updated Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws were included in the board packet and received a two-thirds vote for adoption.
  • Learn more:


BATA Millage Renewal Approved

BATA’s 5-year millage renewal passed in November 2022 at 61% in both Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties showing overwhelming community support for public transportation. After passing the millage, the community holds BATA and BATA’s Board accountable to support the work of the organization to serve the community’s public transit interests. Local millage funding is required for BATA to access State and Federal funds. Learn more:


BATA Board Members Represent Public Transit and the Community

Boards function best with a range of opinions that reflect their community, have healthy discussions, and vote based on the best facts and information available. That is why boards have multiple members. This is expressed in BATA’s Roles & Responsibilities statement. If the BATA Board does not support and advocate for BATA’s mission (as funded by the millage) there is no one else to do so. BATA Board members are accountable to the taxpayers and committed to transparency in several ways including being reliant on voter support every five years, oversight by the Michigan Department of Transportation and the Federal Transit Administration, financial, procedural and compliance audits and board meetings that follow the Open Meetings Act where public comment is welcome and that are video recorded and available to the public.


BATA Board Member Expectations

Information regarding board member expectations can be found in board member documents created by BATA’s Governance Committee and adopted by the full BATA Board. These documents are presented to new members as part of their orientation, and all BATA Board members are expected to abide by these adopted guidelines if they accept a seat on the BATA Board. (Conflict of Interest, Roles & Responsibilities, Code of Conduct). Learn more:  


BATA’s Mission, Vision, and Values Statements


BATA’s Financial Information

  • Documents are reviewed by BATA’s Board monthly, and each month the full board reviews and votes on accepting the financial reports presented by BATA staff. 
  • BATA recently received a clean financial audit (the highest rating possible) and the findings were presented and accepted at the February 2023 board meeting. LINK:
  • BATA has a Finance Oversight Team (which includes three board members) that reviews financial matters and provides reports at regular board meetings in addition to BATA’s monthly staff reports.
  • BATA submits quarterly operating and budget reports to an assigned Michigan Department of Transportation project manager for detailed review and approval.


New BATA Operations Center

BATA and the Traverse City Housing Commission are working to create the first rural transit-oriented development projects in the Midwest, establishing a national model for other communities to follow. This initiative is unique and will help address two of the top challenges facing this community: access to transportation and workforce housing. This new facility will benefit both Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties and will make BATA more efficient and effective, as well as provide improved protection for the organization’s vehicle assets and equipment. Learn more:


Project Costs:

  • More than $90 million combined
  • Transit Phase: $29.6 million ($23 million dollars of committed federal and state funds)
  • Residential Phase: $65 million


Service Improvements and Ridership

Ridership demand is outpacing BATA’s service levels due to limited staff resources – mainly drivers. BATA is successfully and actively trying to recruit and hire additional staff to increase available services and ridership.