CATA’s express bus plan offers faster transit, but garners some community concerns as well

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By Jasmine Seales
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter

The Capital Area Transportation Authority has been planning to implement a Bus Rapid Transit line to run through Lansing, East Lansing and Meridian Township via Grand River and Michigan avenues that would replace the Route 1 bus system.

The project involves center-running bus-only lanes on said streets that would mimic a light railway system. It is currently set to begin construction in late 2017 or early 2018 with a budget of over $100 million.

The bus system would reduce the amount of stops on the Route 1 stop from 45 to 27, but it would increase the pick-up time for passengers to every 6 to 10 minutes, rather than every 9 to 20.

There have been a slew of mixed reviews from Lansing locals and business owners who have made a stir, with many saying that the new system would cause a heap of problems.

“The lanes are in the middle of the road, there are so many elderly and disabled people who ride buses that will be forced to risk their safety for transportation,” said Brandy Cawthin, a student who rides the bus to get to class at Lansing Community College. “The new system would also eliminate stops, and those same disabled and elderly people may have to walk further distances for transportation,” said Cawthin.

CATA Assistant Executive Director Debbie Alexander stated that though there is harsh criticism, CATA is taking every complaint very seriously.

“We accept all perspectives and put them under great consideration. This is a community and its valuable to hear what people think about huge projects like this. It affects a large number of people,” said Alexander.

Some business owners were also not happy about the plans from CATA, seeing as though a center lane transit route would cut off some left-turning lanes, and cause drivers to avoid the areas.

Linh Yu, a nail technician at A Perfect Ten Nails and Spa, said that new business may slow down in her small, family-owned shop, due to drivers taking other routes to get to their destinations.

Sarah Tack, who is a team leader at a recently-opened Whole Food along the route, agrees.

“We would have gone with a different location for our store if the BRT system was already in place when we decided on a location. Traffic would be extremely different with the system in place and could make it very difficult for potential customers to get here,” Tack said.

With the large amount of harsh critics of the new system, there are some fans of the new transportation proposal.

“These buses are packed everyday, and there have been multiple times where I have to pass passengers up because the buses are just too full,” said Karen White, a CATA bus driver. “The new bus system would allow more people to get where they are going in a timelier manner.”

Steve Stachowski a research engineer at the Transportation Research Institute through the University of Michigan, says that bus systems such as the one proposed offer a reliable low cost alternative to getting to and from their destinations.

“In this economy, many people do not have their own personal transportation, and public transportations offer great resources in any area,” he said.

Michael Andrews, who currently uses the Route 1 bus to get to his job downtown is also in favor of the bus system.

“I think I will be able to get to work quicker and more reliable, and I’m excited to see what could change,” said Andrews.

CATA is still very active in hearing out what the community has to say about the project, with two public meetings that will be held on Aug. 16, at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m., respectively.

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