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Regional Rider: Transit Authority, Grand Rapids BusesPrint

Thriving Communities | November 28, 2012 | By James Bruckbauer

Photo by Bobby Alcott (

Hey transit fans,

Thanksgiving weekend marks the beginning of the holiday season, and, for most of us, it’s also the start of a “less-than-healthy food” season.

If you’re like me and you want to shed a few of those extra Thanksgiving pounds, I have just the remedy for you. The next time you’re traveling around—whether you’re heading to work or checking off your holiday shopping list—walk to the nearest bus stop and jump on the bus. Trust me, it’s a lot more fun than gripping the wheel on those icy roads. And who knows, you might just enjoy the ride!

Northwest Michigan Transit In Action

And now there are even more stores within walking distance of a bus stop. Earlier this month, the Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) and Benzie Bus launched a new regular bus route that connects Frankfort and Traverse City, and the many great towns in between. The new route, which requires travelers to transfer to another bus at Ric’s Food Center in Interlochen, also has stops in Honor, Beulah, and Benzonia.

The new service means more options for those who are unable to drive, those who just want to drive less, or those families who want to get rid of that expensive second car.

Hats off, once again, to Benzie Bus and BATA for the collaboration that makes transit work in northern Michigan!

What’s happening around the rest of the state?

Local, state, and federal officials gathered in Grand Rapids last month to announce a $31.8 million federal grant that will support the creation of a “bus rapid transit” route linking Grand Rapids suburbs to downtown. The bus route, experts say, will attract more riders because the buses will travel on dedicated bus lanes, passengers will board on elevated platforms, and traffic lights will turn green approaching buses. The route, which is funded by a voter-approved property tax millage, is expected to open in 2015.

And yesterday in Lansing, the Michigan Senate passed a series of bills that would create a regional transit authority for Detroit and its surrounding counties. The authority would be responsible for coordinating and improving transit service in the Metro Detroit region. The House of Representatives could vote on the bill this month. This is a monumental step toward making transit service in Michigan more efficient and much more effective.

It’s tough to imagine a strong transit system in Michigan’s largest metropolitan region, but a new initiative called the Freshwater Transit gives us a few visuals. Learn more about their work here.

Upcoming Events

December 4 at 3:30 PM - Grand Vision Transportation Network Meeting at the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments (600 E. Front St., Traverse City, MI)

December 12 at 12:00 noon - Benzie Bus Board Meeting at the Benzie Bus Headquarters (14150 U.S. 31, Beulah, MI)

December 13 at 4:00 PM - Grand Vision Transit Subcommittee at the BATA Hall St. Transfer Center (115 Hall St., Traverse City, MI)

You might be interested in…

The Great Decline Of American Driving (Business Insider)

Vancouver approves transportation strategy aimed at getting more people out of cars (Vancouver Sun)

Free work parking drives solo driver rate (SFGate)

D.C. Limits Parking to Promote Bicycling and Transit (WaPost)

Why Amtrak Keeps Breaking Ridership Records and Will Continue To Do So (Atlantic)

Voters say ‘yes’ to great neighborhoods, transportation choices via Tuesday ballot initiatives (SGA)

Voters in Walker, MI overwhelmingly reject withdrawal from the Rapid bus system (MLive)

See you on the bus!