The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority recently proposed a 30-year Transit Master Plan that would improve transportation between the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti areas, potentially easing the burden of transportation for students lacking other forms of travel.

The plan, described by AATA as a “30-year strategy that addresses various public transit needs in the county,” strives to implement suggestions and feedback from the community as well as transit service providers as part of a collaborative effort.

Mary Stasiak, manager of community relations for AATA, said the transit plan focuses on four different services to better serve the Ann Arbor and neighboring areas.

“We are trying to improve connections, improve frequency, late-night service, weekend service between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, primarily in Washtenaw, but not limited to that,” she said.

In order to make the proposal work, Stasiak said that AATA has been reaching out to public and private organizations that are willing to collaborate and provide funding for the expanded services.

“We’re hoping to secure funding by September so that we can start finalizing and reaching out to current and potential riders,” she explained.

If funding is secured by September, AATA will then proceed with asking the community what they would like to see improved, Stasiak said. The plan is to have the board adopt community feedback in November and have the new transit plan implemented by January 2012.

Stasiak said the main reason AATA is considering a change in transit plan is because of recurring requests from the community for improved transportation, specifically the request for additional service to Ypsilanti and late-night service around Ann Arbor.

“Currently, we have about 2,200 trips taken by riders daily (between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti),” she said. “It is the busiest corridor in our service.”

Stasiak emphasized that the importance of the new transit change is the increased involvement of community members in determining how the funds will be allocated, and in helping to make their commutes easier by allowing them to provide input about scheduling and convenience.

“Without their role, our business would be a vacuum,” she said.

Students on campus expressed their support of AATA’s proposed changes, noting the impact it may have on their everyday routines.

Business school sophomore Danny Agar said that he welcomes the upcoming change, as he usually tries to avoid buses because it is difficult to follow their routes.

“I would like to see maybe if they could streamline about five to ten routes and have certain buses that only go that route instead of playing the game of jumping around and using maps,” Agar said.

He added that “simplicity is key,” saying that he felt the bus system would benefit from making their routes and destinations clearer to passengers.

LSA senior Brian Clark said he takes the AATA bus several times a week and wishes the buses ran later, as they usually complete the final route around 10 p.m., adding he thinks they should run until 2 a.m. so that people departing from bars will have a safe ride home.

Clark also said that travel times are another prevalent issue afflicting the bus system, and at times may make buses a less desirable method of transportation.

“I have friends in Ypsilanti, and when I visit them by car it takes ten minutes, but with a bus, it takes almost about an hour,” he said. “They should try to change routes a little bit to decrease time between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.”

Clark added that as the student population grows and an increasing number of people begin working in Ann Arbor as the state overcomes economic difficulties, it’s crucial that the bus system improve so citizens can have alternatives to automotive transit.

Courtney Duffy, an LSA senior, said she was also receptive of the potential changes, particularly because they could come of assistance in running errands.

“Personally, more weekend buses would be appreciated so I could go to Kroger or Meijer,” she said.
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