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Regional Rider: ‘Make No Little Plans’ EditionPrint

Thriving Communities | March 14, 2013 | By James Bruckbauer

Will Traverse City's next generation use these railroad tracks to connect to larger metro areas like Detroit and Chicago?

Hey transit fans,

As I write this, my 7-month old daughter, Eloise, is looking out an Amtrak window. It’s her first train ride to Chicago, and I’m not sure who’s more excited—her, or her father.

Just before we stopped in Niles, I swear she whispered to me, “Daddy, will I be able to take a train from Traverse City soon?”

“Someday soon, baby girl…someday soon.”

I wish I could tell her it's going to happen in five years. But big projects like that require big plans. It's going to take some time to create a fully functional, multi-modal transportation system in northern Michigan. But we're on our way to making that vision a reality.

First, we need to plan…

I thought she was going to cry. But instead, she held back. Phew.

Northwest Michigan transit in action

Five transit agencies working together to create an interconnected regional transit system covering six counties doesn’t just happen overnight or over a few years. It takes lots of planning, lots of coordination, and effective communication. Big decisions—how to align transit routes, where to place bus shelters, and how to incorporate the best technology—require careful attention to details and thoughtful planning before moving forward.

And our transportation leaders are doing just that. The national nonprofit, Smart Growth America, and expert transit consultant Lisa Ballard are working in this region over the next five months to create a mobility management plan for northern Michigan. What’s a mobility management plan? That’s a wonky way to describe a strategy for coordinating all transit service in the region.

There’s really nothing exciting about planning, but the hard work will pay off tremendously for current riders, future riders, and for the region’s growing cities and villages. The outcome will put this region in a great place to become a leader in modern, rural transit.

What’s happening around the state?

State lawmakers are still trying to figure out the best way for Michigan residents to pay for Michigan’s roads, bridges, buses and trains. Proposals so far include increases to fuel taxes registration fees, changes in how fuel taxes are charged, or an all-out switch from fuel taxes to sales taxes.

I’ll do my best to give you brief updates in my future Riders, if you want a more details on the proposals so far. Check out this presentation from Transportation for Michigan, or contact me if you have any questions.

Upcoming events

►  Mar. 21 at 8:30 a.m. – Michigan Association of Planning Transportation Bonanza at the Lansing Radisson (111 N. Grand Ave., Lansing, MI)

►  Mar. 27 at 9 a.m. – Bay Area Transportation Authority Board Meeting at the BATA Hall St. Transfer Center (115 Hall St., Traverse City, MI)

►  Mar. 28 at 4 p.m. – Grand Vision Transit Subcommittee at the BATA Hall St. Transfer Center (115 Hall St., Traverse City, MI)

►  Apr. 2 at 3:30 p.m. – Grand Vision Transportation Network Meeting at the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments (600 E. Front Street, Traverse City, MI)

►  Apr. 10 at 12 p.m. – Benzie Bus Annual Meeting at the Benzie Bus Headquarters (14150 U.S. 31, Beulah, MI)

You might be interested in…

►  Bikes transport TC commuters in cold weather, too (R.Eagle)

►  Governments Look for New Ways to Pay for Roads and Bridges (NYTimes)

►  How about pay-per-mile fees? (TransportNation)

►  At least Amtrak is less reliant on federal funds, CEO says (Hill)

►  Double-Decker Trains Ready for Detroit - Ann Arbor Commuters (Modeshift)

►  Urban trains are the latest must-have accessory for CA's cities (Planetizen)

See you on the bus!