In preparation for the construction of a new transit hub, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority held its first feedback session yesterday to give Ann Arbor residents a chance to express their views on plans for improvements in the city.

Nancy Shore, program director for getDowntown, a partnership between AATA, the Downtown Development Authority and the city of Ann Arbor, said the AATA is holding the sessions to ensure that the $2.7 million granted to the city last September by the Federal Transportation Authority for infrastructure changes will be used for improvements desired by riders. The other meeting will be held this morning from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.

“We want to make sure that we get feedback from people that actually use the (center) so we know that we’re providing people with things that they want,” Shore said. “But we want to make sure that we’re not putting something in there that somebody might not really use.”

At the session held at Blake Transit Center on Fourth Avenue — Ann Arbor’s main hub for AATA buses — bus riders were surveyed about what features they would like in a newly built transit center.

The surveys included discussion on improved technology — such as a touch-screen trip planning service with functionality similar to Google Maps and real-time arrival and departure signs. Other topics included customer amenities like vending machines, a USB charging station and a food and beverage cart.

Another survey asked for riders’ thoughts on a proposed floor plan for the center. Riders who aren’t available to attend either session may complete an online survey to give their feedback.

Terry Black, project manager for the construction of the new Blake Transit Center, said the replacement of the center is long past due. He said the sessions will help builders fine-tune their current designs to meet the needs of Ann Arbor residents.

“I think we’re close to where we need to be with the design of (the center), but we’re looking to get some input on minor tweaks we could make,” Black said. “We’ve had a high level of (input) … we’ve had it internally and we’ve done a customer survey before, but we want the riders’ input as well.”

Ann Arbor resident Jamie Lee, a regular bus rider who often uses the Blake Transit Center, said she thinks an upgraded center was definitely needed.

“It could be more accommodating,” Lee said. “I think that there’s a lot of things that are missing.”

Lee said the current center isn’t sufficient for a city like Ann Arbor.

“I feel like it doesn’t necessarily meet up with Ann Arbor’s expectations of what a bus center should be like, especially since it’s such a moving city,” Lee added.

At yesterday’s session, Lee offered several ideas for the new center.

“I would definitely recommend it having more room for people — it’s really cramped and crowded in here,” Lee said. “There should be more accessibility because there are disabled people that take the bus and the one door on the far side of the building isn’t enough. It should also have extended hours, with a safer place for people to sit.”

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