One man, two roles: Director oversees transportation in 2 counties

ESCANABA – Public transportation systems in Delta and Schoolcraft counties have entered into a cost-saving agreement to share one executive director.

John Stapleton, executive director at Schoolcraft Public Transit, has been filling in as interim director at the Delta Area Transit Authority since WIlliam Worth retired as DATA director about 10 months ago.

During the past few months, the two transit boards have been working on a shared agreement where Stapleton will administer both agencies, beginning April 1.

Stapleton, of Cooks, has been administer at the Schoolcraft County bus station for four years and has previous work experience in the automotive parts industry. He has already been sharing his time at both bus stations.

On April 1, Stapleton will officially be an employee of DATA, located in Escanaba, and will be contracted out to serve at the Schoolcraft agency in Manistique, working as executive director at each place every other day.

Stapleton said this arrangement will allow each business to have an executive director without having the costs of two full-time administrators. There will be a person assigned as a deputy director “with a tight budget” at each location in the event any decisions have to be made during Stapleton’s absence, he added.

At DATA, Stapleton will oversee the work of 27 employees and a bus inventory of 17 vehicles. More than 130,000 passenger trips are made each year in Delta County with about half of the rides being demand response trips and scheduled rides to work, school, and doctor appointments.

Four Indian Trail buses are available at the DATA parking lot every morning for trips outside the county. These buses arrive daily at the DATA parking lot from 2-6 a.m., he noted.

In Schoolcraft County, Stapleton will serve as executive director for 11 employees. The public transit station there has nine buses which make about 40,000 passenger trips a year.

DATA operates on millage funds from Escanaba and Gladstone and serves the entire county while SCPT operates on a county-wide millage with a local match, Stapleton explained.

Each transit system has a board of directors which were instrumental in developing the shared executive position, said Stapleton.