Michigan/Grand River Avenue BRT



  • edited October 2015
    Funny, because up until very recently, whatever else Lansing has done wrong, transit wasn't one of them. Grand Rapids finally caught up, but up until a few years ago Lansing's CATA had the second highest ridership of any transit system in the state after DDOT in Detroit, it's really impressive given how much larger metropolitan Grand Rapids is. And, it's not even MSU really driving the ridership as much as people think. Ridership has begun to stall out in the past three years or so as property values fell and CATA got nervous about pushing any millage increases for new and expanded services. Personally, I'd like to see some plans for expanded service beyond the BRT line. That could mean new routes or increased frequency on some of the mainlines, but I don't want us to take a seat behind Grand Rapids. Ann Arbor just passed a significant millage increase that will expand service by something like a quarter. We need something as ambitious.

    Something I'd like to see are some east-west routes on the southside. Currently, you've got some service along Jolly and Miller, but they aren't straight east-west. Heck, maybe a circulator using Aurelius, Mount Hope/Holmes, Waverly and Jolly/Miller would make since so folks could get from east-west if they needed and then those looking to get downtown could be transfer at the routes along Cedar, Penn, MLK and Aurelius. I realize CATA is big on the hub-and-spoke system with downtown as the center, which is great for regular commuters and shoppers, but maybe some residential service using smaller buses running less frequently could help southsiders. I mean, say I'm someone who lives at Jolly and Waverly and need to get down Jolly to the Dunckel area - or, heck, even just down to Cedar for something - there is no bus service. You can only get as far as MLK. Same with MLK and Holmes.

    In the suburbs, apart from the obvious push to take over transit in Delta Township and maybe adding a singular line up Waverly from the southside to Grand River, I'd say maybe Holt if not a new line could see some increase frequency or maybe two lines that diverge to pick up where the current route bobs and weaves through the heart of the town. Had to catch a bus a few times from the city/township line down at Willoughby and Cedar and this crossed my mind.

  • I have read that the new system in G.R. is all slick and nice but does not really serve the low income community who have been pushed out of the newly developed downtown. Apparently it serves a community that does not really need or use public transit, and the cost of the new system has caused cut backs on other routes and an overall fare increase, with some folks who can not afford to buy the multi-ride fare cards. I think that one of the prime goals of any public transit is to serve all communities with even greater service to low income neighborhoods [the folks that need it the most] so the idea of more and different routes on the south side is appropriate. Routes that serve small neighborhoods crossing east and west could bring people to the south side business districts without even going through downtown. There could be small hubs to catch a downtown bus or go to another south side area. I hope that the BRT line will not cause fares to increase on the other routes, and defeat the whole reason we have public transit.
  • edited October 2015
    You've probably been reading some anti-transit stuff, then, in which case they'd come up with all kinds of reasons to try and paint the GR line as a boondogle. Truth is that the Silver Line goes down Division which most definitely passes through some of the poorer and rougher areas of Grand Rapids. It's also a bit strange to say it caused fare increases. If anything, BRT lines given their higher ridership would if anything help subsidize other routes and either keep fares from rising or rising more slowly. BRT's a a net ridership increase.

    That said, the Lansing line will probably end up more heavily ridden just given what it connects and how it's structured. It being center-running with dedicated lanes through most of the route will make it faster than the GR line.
  • I may have been reading a article than was from the poorer folks point of view, but it was not anti-transit. I believe the point was that the new line and fancy downtown are from the poor's point of view not for them. That the conservative nature of western Michigan finds less sympathy for and gives less consideration to low income and minority folks. I have not been to Grand Rapids in a long time but I have always known that western Michigan is more conservative than Lansing, so the article rang true. I have had my call land lord in Douglas call me a fa--ot and tell me if had known that we were gay he would have never rented to us. We were buying cider at a mill and some guy comes up and tells us he thinks we are sick sick sick and to get out of there! So I have personal knowledge of how many people think out there.

    The fare issue I think was mainly about the new multi-ride cards. Many people can only afford one fare at a time. They may have solved these issues.

    I think that Lansing is a much different place and we can avoid these kinds of problems and perceptions. CATA is a good service and does I think serves the low income areas as well as any bus company, and I really think the new BRT line will be a big success if they keep in mind all of the communities along the line and it does not take away from other service, is my point.
  • edited October 2015
    Well, some bad news. Lansing didn't land a TIGER grant for this project this budget year, at $31 million, it is a major part of the puzzle for constructing the line. With them having removed the application last month, however, it makes me think they must have known this was coming, in which case their "disappointment" in the article seems disingenous. Or, maybe, it was just a coincidence that they pulled the application and then this happened.

    That said, this is nowehere near the end of the project, and everyone still involved continues to move forward with the plan. TIGER grants are lost all the time. The new Amtrak station lost a TIGER grant or two during its development, and it still got done. This might just push construction back another fiscal year or so. So, this doesn't kill the project, just delays it.
  • It's certainly disappointing that they didn't get this grant, but it's encouraging that they're talking about moving on and seeking other money. If other funding options can't be found then there's always more rounds of TIGER grants. I was just starting to become hopeful that BRT was a sure deal...
  • edited December 2015
    The project continues to move forward. There will be two meetings next month dealing with two different aspects of the plan for anyone interested:
    Considerations for Bicycles Along the BRT Corridor – Lansing/East Lansing Open House event will be held on January 7 at the Peoples Church at 200 West Grand River Avenue in East Lansing, MI. This event will be held from 6 p.m to 7 p.m. The purpose of this open house is to gather feedback from the local community on the value of incorporating bicycles in the corridor, and to solicit input on how this might be accomplished so that it improves the safety and connectivity of the overall regional non-motorized network.

    Designing the Grand River Avenue Corridor – Meridian Township Open House event will be held on January 14 at the Meridian Township Hall at 5151 Okemos Road in Okemos, MI. This event will be held from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The purpose of this open house is to gather input from Meridian Township residents to determine the elements that matter most. Potential elements that could be incorporated in the design include bike lanes or sharrows, wider sidewalks, and public space enhancements, such as landscaping and public art.
  • edited March 2016
    The revised concept drawings have been released in pfd form showing the alignment.

    Some interesting observations are the new traffic signals on the near eastside at 8th and in front of Sparrow (and thus actual crosswalks in front of Sparrow, yay!). The sidwalks on the Sparrow block will also be reduced in key places to make way for the center guideway, and the plans say that the city of Lansing - in a seperate project - may widen (though how much isn't made clear) Michigan between Pennsylvania and Holmes, which is the Sparrow block. The Sparrow station also appears it will be among the largest ones.

    The intersection with Detroit Street in Lansing Township right before the freeway also seems to be a big upgrade. It looks like at the stations there there will be a significant upgrade of crosswolks for better pedestrian traffic. In the median immediately east of the intersection there will be a shared use path that continues east through the median. A big worry was how this would take away from cyclist, and I guess this is the compromise.
  • How is the median pedestrian path going to get plowed with all the bends? I would prefer a straight path, as I assume many bikers and walkers/runners would, unless it is because the path will have to navigate around trees. Hopefully there is some small shrubbery planted alongside the path to increased the feeling of a buffer between the path and the automobile traffic.
  • edited March 2016
    I'd prefer a straighter path, too. That did confuse me a bit. Considering that cyclist currently have to use an unbuffered street lane, however, the median path will already be a safety upgrade. As to how they'll plow it, I figure the same way they plow the River Trial during the winter.

    More observations traveling down the line...

    - Looks like there will be a new traffic signal at Morgan Lane (the back entrance to Frandor) since this will also continue south into the new Red Cedar Renaissance Area. There also be quite a few additional 10-foot sidewalks in this area.

    - Oh, Detroit Street is also where the alignment changes from center running to the westbound guideway transitioning to the lane closest to the median and the eastbound guidway switching to the south side of the street. This alignment continues all the way through downtown East Lansing where the boulevarding of the avenue ends. So the westbound stations will be in the median while the eastbound will be on the south side of the street.

    - New traffic signals through downtown East Lansing at Delta and Charles.

    - East of Bogue where the street comes back together will probably be the where a lot of time is lost since the alignment goes into mixed traffic with no dedicated lanes. Anyway who has driven this stretch knows you can have traffic backed up all the way to Bogue from Hagadorn on busy evenings. Fortunately, there only appears to be one station at Stoddard Avenue. The next station is immediately east of Hagadorn, but it's after Hagadorn that traffic starts to lessen again.

    - The alignment goes back to center running at around Brookfield where a traffic signal will be added. Huge upgrade once you cross the bridge as there will be new sidewalks along the northern side of Grand River up to Montrose.

    - The alignment goes back to mixed traffic for the last small leg around the Meridian Mall east of Okemos Road. As it continues along Grand River in between Meijer and the Meridian Mall it loops behind the gas station (where there will be a station and 60-parking reserved for a parking-and-ride) at GR and Marsh and then takes Marsh back up to the intersection and on to westbound GR and then into the main entrance of the Merdian Mall. There will be 150-space parking and ride at the Meridian Mall.
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