(1) Any number of persons, not fewer than three, each of whom is at least 18 years of age and a qualified elector, may file with the department a written application requesting that the department authorize a corporation to act on behalf of the department within a designated area.
(2) The department may not charge a filing fee for the application. If the department determines that it is advisable that the corporation be so authorized, the department shall also approve the articles of incorporation of, or proposed for, the corporation, and any amendments thereto. The transportation corporation must operate under contract with the department. The department may designate by contract the area or areas of the state in which the corporation may act, and such area or areas may include territory within two or more political subdivisions of the state.
(3) The department may authorize more than one corporation to act on behalf of the department within the same designated area. The contract so authorizing each corporation shall specify the public purposes which the corporation may further on behalf of the department. In all cases, the purposes of a corporation shall be limited to the promotion and development of transportation facilities and systems. No corporation may act on behalf of the department or hold itself out as acting on behalf of the department unless the department has approved its operation.