Taubman College

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M.U.P. students win prestigious state planning award

A group of students from Taubman College's Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program, will be awarded the Outstanding Student Project Award by the Michigan Association of Planning (MAP/APA Michigan) at its annual conference, Planning Michigan, on October 2nd, 2013.

The project, "Let's Roll: Reimagining Transit on Washtenaw Avenue", was developed by M.U.P students Joel Batterman (M.U.P.'12), Becca Homa (M.U.P.'12), Shintaro Hori (M.U.P.'12), Kimberly Jongsma (M.U.P.'12), Moyin Li (M.U.P.'12), Gautam Mani (M.U.P.’12), and Julia Roberts (M.U.P.'12) under the guidance of faculty advisors Jonathan Levine (Professor of Urban and Regional Planning) and Eric Dueweke (Lecturer in Urban Planning).

The project and corresponding report takes on a central question that is transferable to many communities throughout the state: how to feasibly implement improvements in transit service in auto-dominated corridors?

The project, completed in April 2012, considers options for improving transit service along the seven-mile arterial of Washtenaw Avenue that connects the downtowns of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. Linking to broader efforts to plan jointly for the Washtenaw corridor, the project proposes a series of improvements targeted at observed delays centered on intersections, roadways, and boarding treatments; and considers options for improving transit service in the corridor, focusing principally on reducing transit delays and improving service reliability.

A summary of the project reads as follows:
Washtenaw Avenue, the seven-mile arterial connecting the downtowns of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor (and passing through two townships along the way) is the most heavily trafficked public transit route in its namesake county. The Washtenaw corridor is a five-lane auto-oriented strip along most of its length, and is the focus of improvement efforts by "Reimagine Washtenaw," a partnership of four municipalities, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (the lead client), the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, and the Michigan Department of Transportation. Targeted improvements pertain to land use (with a transit-oriented-development focus), transportation, and economic development.

Within this broader context, this study considers options for improving transit service in the corridor, focusing principally on reducing transit delays and improving service reliability. The report systematically analyzes sources of bus delay on Washtenaw Avenue; the team rode a sample of trips and recorded second-by-second location and speed information. This analysis showed that a large majority of the delay attributable to waits at traffic signals and time spent at bus stops for boarding and alighting passengers. It proposes a series of improvements targeted at the observed delays centered on intersection, roadway, and boarding treatments. Recognizing the political and fiscal challenges of implementation, the report proposes cumulative improvement phases. The farthest-reaching of these amounts to full-fledged Bus Rapid Transit along the corridor; the document systematically documents the potential for numerous improvements along the way that also promise meaningful increases in transit speeds and reliability in the short and medium term.

Ryan Buck, Director of the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, the agency responsible for transportation planning in Washtenaw County said, "The students have provided a remarkable level of information and presented it in a readable plan, which will no doubt aid in the implementation of corridor and transit improvements."

The Michigan Association of Planning is the state chapter of the American Planning Association and is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting sound community land use planning that benefits the residents of Michigan.

Sep 19, 2013


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