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Regional Rider: Old Man Winter editionPrint

Thriving Communities | January 16, 2013 | By James Bruckbauer

Hey transit fans,

Brrrr. It looks like our friend Old Man Winter decided to show his face in Traverse City again. You know what that means: face-chilling bike commutes, bundled-up walk commutes, and icy-slick car commutes. But don’t worry, active northerners—if you’re feeling a little uneasy on those roads, you can always jump on a bus to get where you need to go. Warm stores in Empire, Frankfort, Buckley, Suttons Bay, and even Kalkaska are just a short, toasty bus ride away.

In fact, next time you’re heading out to Acme, give the Williamsburg Connector a try. It’s one of the best rides you’ll ever take. I rode the Connector out to the Grand Traverse Resort last fall for the Chamber’s Annual Economic Outlook breakfast and it was great; The bus dropped me off right at the door; I arrived with plenty of time to shake a few hands; and, I got to laugh every time someone mentioned their half-mile walk through the big, icy parking lot.

I even had the chance to send a couple emails on the way! It’s, by far, my new favorite ride.

Northwest Michigan transit in action

In other news, national experts are coming to the area to help make our regional transit system even better. Smart Growth America, a national nonprofit dedicated to thoughtful city development, will enlist a team of big-time consultants to work with local transportation officials on developing a list of ways the state can encourage more collaboration among the region’s transit agencies. I’ll keep you posted on the project, which kicks off at the end of this month.

What’s happening around the state?

Speaking of wonky state policy, Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to talk about transportation tonight during his annual State of the State address.  The governor, a big fan of transit, will likely talk about proposals to pay for roads, bridges, buses, trains, and sidewalks. Get your popcorn ready for that one, folks. It will be worth tuning in.

And, of course, lawmakers in Lansing finally passed legislation that creates a Regional Transit Authority for the Metro Detroit region. This is a big deal for many people around that state that wanted to see more efficient, better-coordinated regional transit in southeast Michigan. A more connected southeast Michigan will have ripple effects across the state. But the work to tie all the systems together has just begun. Bravo to those who made it happen.

Upcoming Events

► TONIGHT: Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. – Traverse City Corridor Improvement Planning Study Presentation at the Traverse City Government Center (400 Boardman Avenue, Traverse City, MI)

► Jan. 24 at 4:00 p.m. – Grand Vision Transit Subcommittee at the BATA Hall St. Transfer Center (115 Hall St., Traverse City, MI)

► Jan. 30 at 9 a.m. – Bay Area Transportation Authority Board Meeting at the BATA Hall St. Transfer Center (115 Hall St., Traverse City, MI)

► Feb. 5 at 3:30 p.m. – Grand Vision Transportation Network Meeting at the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments (600 E. Front Street, Traverse City, MI)

► Feb. 13 at 12 p.m. – Benzie Bus Board Meeting at the Benzie Bus Headquarters (14150 U.S. 31, Beulah, MI)

You Might Be Interested In…

Benzie Buses Being Powered By Propane (Record-Eagle)

30% of Boston commuters gave up parking permits after "free transit" trial (AtlanticCities)

Should parking lot revenue fund transit? (Governing)

3 Keys for Drawing Drivers to Mass Transit (AtlanticCities)

Washington bus agency seeks 25% more riders without adding more service (Beacon)

From state to town, Michigan takes strong steps toward a better transportation future (T4America)

Stay warm out there. See you on the bus!

-James