Public transportation to be revamped in Okemos and greater Lansing area

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By Danielle Turcotte
Meridian Times staff writer

The CATA bus system’s existing service is at or exceeding capacity for the Michigan Avenue and Grand River Avenue route. Representative from CATA and in charge of the transportation study, Debbie Alexander, wants to find a better and faster alternative. The issue was announced at the Meridian Township Board Joint Meeting with school districts and local governments on Tuesday, Feb. 28.

The study is looking into whether adding more vehicles to the route or a higher speed alternative is better.

“It is really best if public transportation lead the initiative, but that we consider it a broad transportation project and not just a public transportation project.  So multi moto—so auto, pedestrians, bicyclists including transit,” said an MDOT representative.

In the study, every high-speed transit option was looked at and four of them fit. Currently there are 6,600 trips a day in this corridor. One result found in the study is that faster travel does not equal more ridership on a light-rail transit system. However, among the four options the board is looking to identify the best mode and see its competitiveness.

CATA developed a modified bus rapid transit, which would improve travel time at a lower cost while ridership would be higher. The ridership would bring in 1,000 additional trips per day. A bus rapid transit system would cost $194 million.

Once Meridian Township board members expressed concern on where the money was going to come from for this type of project this diagram was shown on the many ways of how it could possibly be funded.

Board members voiced concern on how this project would be funded.  There are many options regarding funding for transportation improvements.

“The thing that Meridian has going for it is the high ridership. The Meijer and the mall are tremendously high destination points.  When you take them off the map, ridership drops significantly and what happens to our cost index is that it goes up. We don’t see a short-term option we need all of these components to make this project competitive,” said Alexander.

According to a report from Kiplinger.com, Lansing and the greater Lansing area has “unimpressive public transportation.” The bus rapid transit system is a great opportunity and would help sustain Meridian Mall and establish a bigger customer base.

Funding still has to be aligned, therefore Meridian Township residents will not see any groundbreaking for quite some time.

Meridian Township Treasurer Julie Brixie says that this is such an exciting opportunity for the township. “I think that a transit system like this would act as a super energizer, economic energizer in the corridor. And then it also does something for our Meridian Mall, which would be, helps sustain it and continue expanding the customer base. Because in my opinion if it takes 7.5 minutes less to get there that means that there is going to be more customers hopping on the bus to go down to that important destination that is really a key financial part of meridian township. So I look forward to future updates,” said Brixie.

For more information and visuals go to the Michigan / Grand River Avenue Transportation Study

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