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March 1, 2011 - 10:14pm

Questions on Campus: What causes delays in the University bus system?


It’s not an unfamiliar scene to see a couple dozen students standing outside at a bus stop in all sorts of weather. And though University Parking and Transportation Services promises that buses run about every 10 minutes, many students who regularly travel via University buses would beg to differ.

According to the PTS website, the University operates a total of 60 buses, moving between North, Central and South Campuses as well as the Medical Campus and East Ann Arbor Health Center.

Because of the abundance of construction taking place in Ann Arbor and on campus, buses are often faced with the obstacle of creating new routes to best accommodate students and community members while avoiding roadblocks.

Construction at the C.C. Little bus stop last summer caused a complete shutdown of the central area for bus pick-up and drop-off on Central Campus. As a result, temporary bus stops were set up along South University Avenue and other roads on campus.

And a water main break on North Campus in January 2009 forced the Bursley-Baits buses to take a detour on Plymouth Road, and temporarily shut down the Northwood Express route, according to a Jan. 15, 2009 Michigan Daily article.

The temporary detour led to further delays from increased time driving during rush hour driving and longer routes, making many students using the buses late for classes.

While road construction and obstruction can cause traffic delays, at times, the buses themselves create the delay. Though the buses are operated by specially licensed individuals, accidents do happen. It’s not unheard of for a University bus to get into a minor accident with other another vehicle.

In April 2010, a University bus rear-ended a University Police patrol car while it was parked near the Veterans Administration Hospital, according to an April 16, 2010 article in the Daily.

The police officer received non-life threatening injuries, according to the article.

In an attempt to reduce the number of students waiting at the bus stop for extended periods of time, the Magic Bus feature on the PTS website shows waiting times for each bus stop and where buses are on their given routes. There are also electronic displays at the Michigan Union, the Michigan League and Pierpont Commons that show bus wait times, and touch-screen displays in South Quadrangle Residence Hall, Bursley Residence Hall and the Shapiro Undergraduate Library detail bus routes.