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BATA Study Eyes Significant Changes

Reorganized Cherriot, 'campus connector' among suggestions

Choices | December 2, 2011 | By James Bruckbauer

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BATA's "Village Connectors" could soon connect to Interlochen and Acme (click to enlarge)

The Bay Area Transit Authority (BATA) unveiled on Wednesday a groundbreaking study aimed at improving our region’s largest bus system.

Working with transit consultants Vlecides-Schroeder, recommendations are now in place that, if implemented, will help people get from their homes to jobs and stores. It will help visitors and tourists better connect to and enjoy the region. At the same time, BATA will continue to be a vital service for hundreds of families for daily needs. It will transform transportation in the region.

It’s called the Transit Service and Coordination Study and it could be one of the most significant pieces to implementing the Grand Vision to date.

You can view the study here.

The following recommendations are worth noting:

  • Reorganize the Cherriot system: for example, straightening routes, getting rid of inefficiencies, and increasing speed.
  • Provide a “campus connector”: create a  service that circulates the city (replacing the Express Route) connecting NMC’s main campus, the University Center, and Munson Hospital.
  • Improve Village Connectors: BATA’s “fixed-schedule routes that connect to cities and towns outside TC every hour, possibly extending the hours, and running on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Add Village Connectors: develop two more Village Connectors that would connect Traverse City to Interlochen and the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme.
  • Introduce Technology: upgrade the fare system to use card-swipe technology.
  • Miscellaneous: other perhaps more obvious recommendations include improving bus stops and their connections to sidewalks and trails, redesigning the agency’s website, and improving overall marketing.

The plan is not perfect; a few lingering questions remain about Cherriot routes in town. For example, Why not run a bus on Division? Is there a strong need to run on Oak St.?

Still, most of the changes would be a dramatic improvement. With these changes, the system would become more attractive for those who want to get around the region without depending on a car, including many commuters. I was also pleased to see that it addresses nearly all of the recommendations from this Institute’s 2009 study titled “Expanding Transportation Choices in the Grand Traverse Region.”

But we need to be patient; this will take some time. In fact, the agency will still have to turn the recommendations into a solid 5-year plan before it can implement. However, I trust we can get this done.

This study supports the way we want to grow in this region. Our towns and villages will be better shaped and connected to each other, commuters will have more choices, our streets will have less congestion, and our neighborhoods will be healthier.

I’ll try to keep you informed in the coming months on the plan, some of the changes, and what they will mean to you.

(A version of this post was also published by My Wheels Are Turning under the title: “BATA Releases New Study: Exclusive First Look at Improvements“)

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