Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (AAATA) officials are seeking public input on several ideas to make service between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor quicker and more convenient.
"We see 5,000 trips between the two cities on a typical weekday," says AAATA community relations and marketing manager Mary Stasiak. "It's a corridor that experiences frequent delays from traffic congestion that often puts our buses behind schedule, and there has been interest for quite some time to provide faster service between the two cities."
Officials at AAATA have developed an updated plan for transit service and amenities on Route 4, its busiest service, which runs along Washtenaw Avenue between Ann Arbor and Ypsi. Potential improvements could include introducing an "express" limited-stop service, making use of traffic signal technology that can help buses stay on schedule, and improving lighting and other amenities at bus stops.
Stasiak says she doesn't think the community is ready for one of the more radical options: dedicated lanes for buses only. She adds that local residents need to know the biggest improvements, including a bus rapid transit system, would end up costing the most, because they would require not just funds for implementation but also for continued operation.
Moderate-cost options include implementing "queue-jump lanes" that allow buses to go straight instead of turning right in a right-turn-only lane or using technology that allows a bus driver to push a button that communicates with light signals. The technology tells traffic signals to turn green sooner or stay green longer, reducing the time buses spend waiting at traffic signals.
The updated plans were developed through funding support from the Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan and grew out of concepts in the 2014 ReImagine Washtenaw study.
The updated plan for improved operations and amenities will be on display at an upcoming public open house from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Learning Resource Center, 4135 Washtenaw Ave. in Pittsfield Township.
Those who want to comment but cannot attend the open house are encouraged to make comments on AAATA's ReImagine Washtenaw webpage, call the AAATA comment line at (734) 794-1880, or email Planning@TheRide.org. The public comment period is open through Dec. 18.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the interim 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.