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Fresh to TC: Riding the BATA Bus

MLUI intern tackles public transit

Fresh to TC | June 5, 2014 | By Rebecca Fisher

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Editor’s Note: MLUI’s summer intern, Rebecca Fisher, has never been to Michigan, let alone Traverse City. As part of her time here with us, we thought it’d be interesting to get her fresh perspective on all things “Up North” 

Rebecca is in TC without a car, so she’s exploring ways to get around town. Here she takes her first trip with BATA.

This past Wednesday, I thought I would take advantage of Smart Commute Week’s “Try Transit Day,” with BATA offering free rides on their city loops for the day. When I walked into the station, my first impression was how clean everything was—particularly coming from my experience with public transit in Philadelphia.

After grabbing a bite to eat from the Smart Commute BATA breakfast, I started to look around for the bus I had planned to take for a quick ride up to the mall and back.

The night before I had looked at the city loop schedule and this is what I saw:

(Image taken from BATA website)

I decided that I would take the “green line,” but once I got to the station, the signs above the parked buses had numbers, not colors, above them. I looked around for the picture of the routes I had seen online, but all I found was a sign with numbers and the named routes. I couldn’t quite put all the colors, numbers, and routes together, so I went inside and asked for some help. They kindly explained that the green line was the No. 1 route to the Grand Traverse Mall.

While you can find the numbers and names of the routes online and figure out the color and number system on the signs if you spend enough time looking around, it might be clearer if there were one label per route—especially for people new to town, like me. So instead of numbers, colors, and names in various places, the signs where the buses pull in, and the various maps, could always include just the name of the route.      

After waiting for a while, my bus arrived and I hopped on. There were only a few other people on board, so it was easy to strike up a conversation with the driver. At one point, he even said they had job openings and invited me to apply. They said I could even get a T-shirt with my name on it, which I’m not going to lie, strongly enticed me.

It took about 30 minutes to get to the mall—a little longer than I expected, but very doable in case I have a burning desire to get to Target. Plus, people were friendly and helpful, and the buses and stations were clean. It’s nice to know I can turn to BATA when my bike won’t cut it

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