Transportation Director to Retire
Metro Transit's Director, Bill Schomsich, has announced that he will be retiring on December 10 after 33 years of dedication and service in the field of public transportation as an employee of the City of Kalamazoo.
Bill has headed up the area's public transportation system for 29 of his 33 years with the City. In those years, he has spearheaded great amounts of change and accomplishment for transportation services to the community.
Originally from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Bill moved to Kalamazoo in 1980 with his wife, Laura. Bill had a degree in city planning and came to Kalamazoo to work as Metro Transit's Administrator. During that time, Bill applied for and received annual federal and State funding. In 1984, he became the Director of the Metro Transit System.
Through the years, Bill has been in the forefront of many milestones for public transportation as we know it today in this community. One of the many accomplishments he's achieved is working to form the City's Transit Authority in 1985 after a decision for the City to no longer use general fund money to provide public transportation services. A millage was requested that year which did not pass. The next request for a millage went forward in 1986 and succeeded--and the voters have renewed it each time since.
In 1998, the transit system was facing bankruptcy due to funding cuts at both the State and federal level. At the same time, Western Michigan University (WMU) was facing increases in student numbers and concerns over lack of parking. With Bill's direction, a strong partnership was developed between Metro Transit and WMU which helped alleviate parking congestion and the financial concerns of the transit system.
Over the years, Bill shared a dream of one day creating a centralized hub for transportation services such as rail and both inter- and intra- city buses in the middle of Kalamazoo. As hw saw each day from his office the historical train station next door, he could visualize one day buses stationed there alongside the trains, easily connecting people traveling locally to abroad. Years of studies and determined work finally paid off in 2006 when that dream came to fruition with the opening of the Kalamazoo Transportation Center. Buses that had previously parked on the street were moved to what Bill has called, "a full-fledged transit center where Metro Transit buses are partnered with rail and intercity for a true multi-modal transportation center."
Today, Bill has helped bring about new technology that is enabling people to track busees live on the web and he has spearheaded the start of alternative forms of fuel such as biodiesel and hybrid electric buses for use in the City's bus fleet.
33 years from the start of his career, Bill has reached the status of the City's longest tenured department head and currently the oldest City employee, along with countless accolades achieved throughout his career.