Ann Arbor Area Community News
Everyone from getDowntown to the Grand Rapids Press Editorial Board to the Michigan Municipal League are urging action on a package of bills before Michigan’s lame duck legislature. The bills would provide for an increase in State transportation funding, which could in turn leverage increased Federal funding. (Without the bills, we will apparently see a decrease in Federal funding.) One such call to action is as follows:
A three-year effort to increase transportation investment in Michigan all comes down to a single day— this Thursday, the final day of debate for the lame duck session.
It used to be that transportation fit neatly into two basic categories: public transportation and private transportation. Think of buses vs. bikes or trains vs. cars.
We’ll here in Ann Arbor, and elsewhere in the world, a new trend is emerging.
Meet the new era of private-public transportation (PPT).
“AATA has a long-established service standard of placing shelters at bus stops with 50 or more boardings per day,” says Manager of Service Development Chris White.
The new shelters are:
I’ve created a map of AATA shelters — it only has those nine, but anyone can edit and add to it:
Photo via AATA
Last week, AATA published its 2007 Annual Report (12 page pdf), showing continued ridership growth (though less dramatic than in the 2 years previous). Today, the Ann Arbor News and Detroit News are reporting Amtrak ridership increases for the past year.
AATA boasted only a 2.5% increase in fixed-route riders in 2007, but notes that the past 3 years have seen a total 30% increase in ridership, as well as a 30% increase in productivity (measured in riders per service hour).
Amtrak reported Wolverine Line (Port Huron to Chicago) ridership increases of 5.9% for the October ’07 – July ’08 period, and national increases of 11.3% during that period. (See previous AU articles for historical data on the Ann Arbor station.)
Both operators note that system capacity is limited for future ridership increases – AATA notes that additional buses have been added during peak hours to handle the standing-room crowds that riders are familiar with, while the Amtrak articles repeat the earlier warning about a lack of rolling stock for increasing service. The DetNews cites Amtrak officials as estimating that ridership would have increased further, except that weekend trains are sold out, with some weekend demand spilling over onto Monday and Thursday routes. While the A2News notes that Congress has passed a “veto-proof” funding increase of 33% for Amtrak’s upcoming fiscal year, adding and upgrading rolling stock and rails could consume billions of dollars.
As gas prices continue to increase, more and more people in Washtenaw County are looking for alternative ways to get to work.
One possible (though not immediate) alternative is Commuter Rail.
There are currently two proposed rail projects connecting Ann Arbor to outlining areas.
One project that continues to move forward is the Washtenaw Livingston Line, or WALLY.
Today the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study gave a presentation on the WALLY. This presentation is a summary of reports compiled by R.L. Banks and Associates, the consultant that has been hired to judge the feasibility of the project.
Here is a summary of the major conclusions from the reports:
There is lots more in the reports online. You can read all of the reports here.
A recent article in the New York Times says that Amtrak’s capacity is quickly being reached, and it will be difficult for the corporation to increase service:
Use of Ann Arbor’s Amtrak service has been climbing heavily over the last couple of years. Data for 2008 isn’t readily available, but Richard Murphy produced this graph of Amtrak ridership out of ARB from 1994 to 2007 with Department of Transportation data:
Several years ago, Amtrak installed new high-speed switches on the route to Chicago. But service to Detroit is still spotty and inconvenient (the earliest trains from Ann Arbor arrive in Detroit at 3pm).
Plans for efficient lines from Ann Arbor to Detroit and Howell are progressing apace. Service to Detroit, possibly using Amtrak cars, is expected by early 2010. And the AATA’s Chelsea/A2 commuter service is a month into its 2-year pilot program.
The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has spent several years studying ways to accommodate traffic demands along Fifth Avenue and Division Street while also addressing community needs for sustainable transportation.
The DDA has developed a comprehensive improvement plan for the two corridors. You can read more about the plan here
The plan calls for adding bike lanes and parking on Fifth Ave. and Division Street in order to enhance conditions for pedestrians and cyclists while also offering parking spaces for cars. There are also other proposed enhancements.
The DDA is interested in hearing public feedback about the proposed Fifth and Division improvements plan as a first step before bringing a recommendation before Ann Arbor City Council to move ahead with this project.
Here are the details:
If you have any sort of opinion about this project, please come and voice your views.
The first is a forum called Same Roads, Same Rules? sponsored by the Washtenaw Biking and Walking Coalition. This is tonight (Wednesday, May 7) at 7:00pm in the Downtown Development Authority Conference Room (150 S. Fifth Avenue, Suite 301). This public forum will focus on car/bike coexistence on the roads of Ann Arbor and how engineering solutions alone may not be sufficient to address them.
The second event is a panel discussion on real-life sustainable commuting tomorrow (Thursday, May 8) at the Ann Arbor District Library from 7:00 to 8:30pm. Join local commuting celebrities Ed Vielmetti, Scott Munzel (a local Attorney), Tamara Real (Arts Alliance) and Alaine Karoleff (Inner Circle Media) as they talk about their commutes: what methods they use, challenges and surprises they encounter, and most of all, how using a sustainable mode of transportation helps them “get more” out of their commute. Time will be left over for the folks in the audience to share their stories.
Hope to see you at one of these events!
Ed notes that they’ve also done Detroit, and points out that there are now a couple ways to get between Ann Arbor and Detroit on transit. Google maps doesn’t seem to know about them, though.
New Comments(twitter feed)
Arbor Update Topics