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AATA mulls bigger buses, monorail in transit plans

BY DYLAN CINTI AND ELYANA TWIGGS
Daily Staff Reporters
Published December 7, 2010

A countywide transit vision

The AATA is also working on a long-term plan to improve its regular busing service.

The AATA’s countywide transit vision is a 30-year plan to revamp its busing system, The Ride, which currently operates in both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

Officials developed the countywide transit vision as a means of addressing a variety of issues including a lack of speedy routes to vital destinations, frequent congestion, increases in mobility needs for aging riders and a lack of connectivity between counties, according to Michael Benham, a strategic planner for The Ride.

The countywide transit vision is designed to address these needs by proposing changes to busing like adding local circulators and door-to-door service, connecting counties using coach and express buses and utilizing a park-and-ride option for those who own vehicles, according to a Nov. 18 AATA status report.

The vision also aims to increase the use of bus lanes and install a revamped commuter rail. Finally, the transit vision focuses on making transit centers attractive and appealing for riders.

Eli Cooper, Ann Arbor’s transportation program manager, said he believes the Transit Master Plan will pave the way for important new developments in Washtenaw County.

“The AATA … is reaching out in a significant way and is getting excellent input from the advisory committee as well as the public,” Cooper said. “They have a comprehensive and thorough outreach process.”

The next step of planning is to determine whether the transit plan’s objectives are aligned with the community’s needs, Cooper said. This mainly involves accommodating the markets that aren’t exposed to the “high level” of transit service that is operating around Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, he said.

The Transit Master Plan presented by AATA, Cooper said, will allow Ann Arbor to “continue to grow and prosper as a regional job center without strangling the community’s transportation arteries with individual commuters and cars on our streets looking for parking spaces on valuable land.”