The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (AAATA) recently hosted two community feedback sessions on proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) service between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor.
The proposed service would follow route 4, AAATA's busiest route, which runs along Washtenaw Avenue, the transit authority's most congested corridor. AAATA envisions the BRT route as an express route with limited stops. The transit authority also plans enhancements to stations along the Washtenaw corridor and is considering making use of technology that allows bus drivers to extend traffic signals.
One pop-up feedback session was held from 4-6 p.m. April 23 at the Ypsilanti Transit Center at 220 Pearl St. in Ypsi, and a second was held from 7-10 a.m. April 24 at the Blake Transit Center at 328 S. Fifth Ave. in Ann Arbor. Julia Roberts, planning and innovation project lead for AAATA, says about 35 people showed up over the course of each session.
At both sessions, AAATA staff asked participants to put colored stickers on a map of the proposed BRT route, with different colors representing where participants live, work, and make other frequent stops along the corridor.
Residents were also encouraged to give feedback on various strategies AAATA is considering to improve the travel time between Ypsi and Ann Arbor. Several riders noted that strategies like lanes allowing buses to jump ahead of other traffic, or technology that allows bus drivers to extend traffic signals, can help buses get around town faster. But they said faster boarding and deboarding would also help with efficiency overall.
AAATA is considering a variety of options to speed up the boarding and deboarding process. Those include mobile ticketing and other off-board ticketing options, as well as curb-level boarding to make boarding easier for the elderly and those with wheelchairs, strollers, or carts.
Roberts told participants at the Ypsi pop-up session that stops on AAATA's current plan for the BRT route cover about 80 percent of ridership. Regular neighborhood routes will continue to cover stops along the same corridor that aren't included in the BRT route, but they may run only once every 30 minutes instead of every 10-15 minutes as they do now.
The timeline for implementing BRT service "depends on available funding and community support," Roberts says, but "some elements" of it could be implemented within five to 10 years.
The BRT route is just one aspect of the "ReImagine Washtenaw" plan, which AAATA is a partner in. A comment period about BRT or other improvements to AAATA services is open through May 10. Area residents are encouraged to make comments on AAATA's ReImagine Washtenaw webpage or call the AAATA comment line at (734) 794-1880.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She has served as innovation and jobs/development news writer for Concentrate since early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to Driven. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Julia Roberts photo by Sarah Rigg. Map photo courtesy of AAATA.