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ON BOARD: Partnership Saves Money, Gives Students Choices

February 17, 2003 | By Johanna Miller
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

Johanna Miller
  The BATA bus provides Liesel Unger (right) the opportunity to attend Traverse City West High School with her best friend Josyln Westphal (left).

Each day after classes at Traverse City West Senior High School, Liesel Unger and Joslyn Westphal await their Cherriot. But these sophomores and best friends are not looking for a Ben Hur-like character at the reins of a Romanesque, horse-drawn carriage. Instead, they’re expecting a humorously named Bay Area Transportation Authority bus — this is Cherry Country, after all — to take them home.

A partnership between the regional authority and the Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) has students like Liesel and Joslyn riding home on BATA instead of on a big yellow school bus. This collaboration helps both agencies; each saves money by sharing maintenance facilities, while BATA also gains ridership.

“It’s two public agencies working together for the good of the community,” Jim Pavelka, superintendent of TCAPS, said of the reciprocal arrangement. “We’re both in business to serve the community, and we need to do that in a cost-effective manner.”

“BATA helps us simplify,” added Mr. Pavelka. “And it gives our students more flexibility in getting to school. All school schedules are not just 8-4.”

The partnership also made it easier for Liesel to choose which high school she attends.

“BATA helped make it workable for me to pick my school of choice,” said Liesel. “I wanted to go to West, where I knew more people.”

Both Joslyn and Liesel hope to have cars next year when they turn 16, but meanwhile they’re finding BATA to be a convenient ride and a good learning experience.

“It’s been a unique experience and has allowed us to meet interesting people from the community,” noted Liesel.

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