The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority
deserves credit for being a progressive public transportation
entity; the authority is at the forefront of creating innovative
programs for the benefit of its riders, the environment and the
city which it serves. The AATA has truly set a high bar for other
transportation authorities to follow. Its newest endeavor has been
the installation of clock timers at the various stops on the
“The Link” bus system, which connects downtown Ann
Arbor with the University’s central campus. These timers tell
the number of minutes that has passed since the last Link bus
arrived at the stop. Since the interval between the buses arriving
at each stop is about every eight minutes, commuters will easily be
able to decide whether or not they want to wait for the next bus.
Besides the “coolness” factor of these devices, it is
one step closer to the bigger picture of a transportation
coordination system of the future by which all buses are linked
through a single network with the ability to transmit their
locations to the Internet in real-time. By taking the first steps
towards such a system, the AATA shows that it is actively testing
new technology that could improve public transportation’s
user-friendliness and ultimately its usability.

Mira Levitan

The AATA has also recently begun exhibiting student artwork on
the sides of its buses under a program named ArtRide. Large posters
on the sides of all 82 buses in the bus fleet decorate Ann
Arbor’s roads with expressions of student creativity and
artistic talent. The goal of the program is to forge closer bonds
between the University’s population and the city as a whole.
Community building through initiatives like ArtRide will enhance
the relationship between these two entities, which in times past
and present, feel estranged and often isolated from each other.
With stronger community ties, Ann Arbor can be even more proud of
being the home to one of the best public universities in the

Besides pioneering new technology and implementing innovative
programs to enliven the community, the AATA is also environmentally
friendly. In July of 2002, the AATA announced a partnership with
British Petroleum, a global oil producer, to use ultra-low sulfur
diesel. By using the low sulfur fuel, AATA buses obtain a 10
percent reduction in particulate emissions, which are colloquially
known as “smog.” This is in light of tougher federal
regulations that require buses to cut down emissions by 2006. The
AATA was proactive in creating this partnership and was the first
municipal transportation system in the Midwest to use this fuel. By
meeting future emissions standards before it needs to, the AATA
shows a sense of social responsibility in operating minimally
polluting buses for the sake of a cleaner environment.

Not many public transportation systems can claim the innovative
trends the AATA has tried to set, or the environmentally friendly
attitude that it has adopted. The authority should be praised for
their efforts in adopting a progressive attitude towards
transportation. The superior execution of their initiatives proves
that the AATA is not some municipal service satisfied with the
status quo but, in fact, a dynamic institution that constantly
subjects itself to ideas for improvement. With rising oil and gas
prices, Ann Arbor’s transportation system is well positioned
to serve as a great alternative for drivers who are looking for a
way to cut down on costs.

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