public transit

TART Trails

The Michigan Transportation Odyssey is going from Traverse City to Detroit this week using only public transportation. It's an annual event held by Transportation for Michigan, which advocates for transportation policy changes around the state.

Kathryn Gray is a spokeswoman for Transportation for Michigan. She says the Odyssey is meant to celebrate Michigan's accomplishments in public transportation over the past year. But they're also thinking about ways Michigan's public transit can improve.

User: David Defoe / flickr

Every Saturday Rina Miller talks with Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry about some of the biggest stories in the week's news.

The Ride / Facebook

Casa Latina, a new non-profit organization supporting Washtenaw County's Latino residents, has some interesting figures:

  • According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 30 percent of Washtenaw County community members who speak Spanish at home speak English ‘less than well’
  • Latinos make up 4 percent of Washtenaw County, yet 7.4 percent of those who use public transit are Latino
  • More than 70 percent of Spanish speakers in Washtenaw County are native-born US citizens, and 6.5 percent are naturalized citizens

With that in mind, Casa Latina has partnered with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (The Ride) to begin publishing a bus route and scheduling guide in Spanish.

In a press release, Charo Ledón, Executive Director of Casa Latina, commented, "This effort will help many of our fellow community members effectively use the bus system to get to and from work, school and the grocery store. It's a big step for Spanish-speakers to be able to fully participate in our community."

And a Spanish translation might just be the first step.

Carrie Rheingans, also with Casa Latina said, "In working with TheRide, we learned that there are folks who would like to see the Ride Guide published in other languages, too, and we applaud TheRide for trying this pilot project in Spanish first with Casa Latina." 

According to the release, The Ride's new website will allow users to find information in several languages.

-John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

Public transportation is becoming more popular in Michigan as gasoline prices soar.

Gasbuddy.com reports the average price for a gallon of gas leaped to $4.10 this week.

Clark Harder is the president of the Michigan Public Transit Association.   Harder says bus ridership has been rising along with the price of gas in Michigan.

“For a lot of people four dollars is kind of a trigger factor that causes them to think about parking their car and trying out transit," says Harder.

smaedli / Creative Commons

Amtrak trains in Michigan had a record number of riders and revenue for the fiscal year that ended last month. Michigan Department of Transportation spokeswoman Janet Foran says Amtrak riders have increased steadily since 2008 when gas prices spiked over $4 per gallon.

Nearly 800,000 people rode one of three passenger train lines in the state bringing in close to $28 million in ticket revenue “It goes to show that people like to have transportation choices,” Foran said.

The record numbers come despite major slow-downs over the summer on the most popular line from Detroit to Chicago.

The biggest ridership increase was on the line that runs from Port Huron through East Lansing to Chicago.

Foran says the summer months and the upcoming holiday season are the busiest times for train riders.

fabi k / Creative Commons

Nine public transportation systems in Michigan have won competitive grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The grants announced Thursday total nearly $44 million.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

It appears rising gasoline prices are getting more people to ride public transportation in Michigan.  But that’s a double edged sword for local bus systems.  

It will be a few months before all the numbers are in, but Clark Harder with the Michigan Public Transit Association says, demand for bus service is up.   He says more and more people are opting to take the bus, because it’s getting too expensive to fill up their own gas tank.