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      Local carpooling gets easier

      Carpooling is a great way to save money and the environment, and U.P. residents have picked up on the growing trend.

      If you don't have a buddy who can sit shot-gun with you, some counties offer public transportation, and MDOT just made it easier. They partnered with central U.P. transit agencies for carpool lot pick-ups.

      "Over the last couple years, we've introduced probably a half dozen new parking lots, public-private partnership," said MDOT representative, James Lake. "Now we're taking this one step further and helping to coordinate services at the parking lots."

      Lots in the program have been adorned with signs that have the number of a local transit company. There are five stops in Marquette County serviced by Marq-Tran and Al-Tran and two in Delta County served by DATA transportation.

      "The more business we can provide locally for Delta County, that's what we're here for," said Bill Worth, Executive Director of DATA.

      For two to four dollars, DATA will pick you up from the lot at the Rapid River Mini Mart or the Route 41 lot in Gladstone and take you anywhere in Delta County.

      Since the signs have been posted, DATA says their services have skyrocketed.

      "I would say that from the park and ride lots, it had more than doubled from those pick-ups there," Worth said.

      The MDOT says they're going to try the new system for a few months to a year to see how well the signs increase public transportation. If they do, they plan on expanding their campaign.

      To find the nearest lot near you, call Marq-Tran at (906) 225-1112 or Al-Tran at (906) 786-1186.