The Link, a circulator bus that connected Oxford residents and their neighbors to Central Campus and downtown Ann Arbor since 2005, has recently been replaced by a shuttle run by the University’s Department of Parking and Transportation Services.
The familiar purple bus, which ran during the school year, had been funded jointly by the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority, the University’s Parking and Transportation Services and the state of Michigan. But on June 3, the DDA withdrew its funding for the downtown portion of the route, citing a study by its transportation committee that found a disproportionate amount of its users were University students.
Soon after, Parking and Transportation Services withdrew its funding for the Link, too, while it explored a similar service using its own buses.
“We put it on our to-do list,” said Bitsy Lamb, manager of Transportation Services. “There wasn’t any doubt that we’d find a way to manage it.”
The AATA Board of Directors voted to discontinue the Link service on Aug. 19.
The new Oxford Shuttle, which officially launched Aug. 31, runs every weekday and has separate routes for class and non-class hours.
Before and after classes — from 7:15 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. and from 5:20 p.m. to 2 a.m. — the shuttle makes a 15-minute cycle, stopping at Oxford Housing, the Trotter House, the Undergraduate Library, the Michigan Union, the Kraus Building, the C.C. Little Building, East Quad Residence Hall and Henderson House — a co-op. During classes, between 8:10 a.m. and 5:20 p.m., the shuttle stops at C.C. Little, East Quad, Henderson House, Oxford Housing and the Trotter House, dropping the circuit around the Diag and increasing its frequency with 10-minute cycles.
Also, during classes, the Oxford Shuttle picks up either the Northwood Express or the Diag-to-Diag Express route — both University bus routes — and continues to North Campus upon arriving at C.C. Little.
The ability to go from the Oxford area to North Campus without a transfer is a huge added convenience for students, Lamb said.
Public Policy junior Noah Neary, president of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity on Oxford Road, whose members frequently used the Link route to get to class during the cold winter months, said he prefers the old system to the new shuttle, although he said the shorter wait times are “definitely an improvement.”
“The main drawback is not getting all the way to downtown,” he said, adding that he and his fraternity brothers often used the Link to reach restaurants and other businesses farther away from campus.
Despite the loss of service to the Kerrytown and Main Street business districts, Oxford Hall Director Christopher Beyer says students should be happy about the change.
“Personally, I think it’s a huge improvement,” he said, brushing off what he perceived as anxiety about the change among students. “I did actually see a Facebook group that was called ‘Save the Link,’ but they probably didn’t have good information.”
Beyer said that in the past students have had problems getting to class because they would miss the Link or it would fill up before they could get a seat. Now, he said, these issues should be less prevalent because of the shorter wait times and larger buses — the Link buses were 30 feet long and the Oxford Shuttle is a 40-foot bus.
Lamb believes the transition will go smoothly.
“I think it will serve the students just fine,” she said.