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Healthcare Access Report Considers Non-Emergency Medical Transportation in Northwest Michigan


In rural Northwest Michigan, most residents depend on cars to get around. We use them to get to work, to school, to the store, the doctor, and more. Yet, many of the region’s rural residents can’t or don’t drive, because of age, disability, or income. For these residents, transportation options are limited; cities and villages offer some non-motorized transportation choices, but walking or biking might not be safe or viable options for rural residents living long distances from work or services. Transit services, meanwhile, are constrained by large geographies and limited budgets. Most rural bus service is demand-response, or dial-a-ride, and users of this service must contend with lengthy travel times and few assurances that they can reach their destinations in time. Further, many rural residents must cross county lines to access employment or medical services, and these crosscounty trips come with additional complications, longer travel times, and added costs.

The Framework for Our Future includes community-identified strategies for meeting Northwest Michigan’s transportation needs, including efforts to support Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT). But in order to take that action and commit to supporting NEMT, there are many factors that community stakeholders need to better understand.

Our Township greatly benefits from Network Northwest's experience, depth of knowledge and understanding. Because they work with so many diverse communities in our ten-county region they understand the local land-use issues and are already working on solutions by the time we realize we need some help.
- Susan Odom, Chair, Suttons Bay Township Planning Commission