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Updated 4:00 PM January 24, 2007




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PTS update: Thompson addition; transit ridership up again

A 400-space addition to the Thompson Street parking structure was approved by the Board of Regents at its monthly meeting Jan. 18.

The regents also were told during a Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) update that transit ridership continues to grow.

The Thompson structure expansion, which will be designed by the architecture and engineering firm of Carl Walker Inc., will be added on the west side of the structure, where three small surface lots exist today. The proposal includes offices for Parking Services and the Office of Budget and Planning, currently in leased space. Parking resources will fund the estimated project cost of $15.7 million.

"This addition will help us meet the growth needs for Weill Hall, the Perry School building, the Ross School of Business and the return of LSA staff to their renovated space," said Dave Miller, PTS executive director.

During his annual update, Miller reported significant growth in bus ridership for U-M and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA).

"AATA ridership in 2006 was 5 million, a 31 percent increase versus 2004," he said. "Two million rides were U-M people, which is a 20 percent increase versus 2005."

MRide, a two-year-old program that allows U-M students, staff and faculty to ride all fixed-route AATA buses free of charge, is a significant factor in the ridership increase for both bus systems, Miller said. U-M carried more than 5.6 million passengers in 2006.

"The Oxford/Trotter LINK partnership has been very successful in the first year, with a 27 percent increase in riders," he added.

Participation in the vanpool program, in which University-provided vans allow riders to share the cost of gasoline while getting a ride to work, continued to grow to 406 riders in 2006.

Miller also talked about the partnership with Zipcar, a private company that allows faculty, staff, students and community residents access to cars for personal or University business.

"In the first two months, 115 members have joined Zipcar, and utilization is growing," he said.

In a nod to the future, Miller told regents the PTS strategic plan included options to build parking structures on North Campus and in the Wall Street area, as well as to improve the customer experience. Improved transit amenities, such as developing transit hubs on the Medical Campus and improving the main transit hub on Central Campus, are being considered, he said.

Miller concluded his update with a demonstration of the Magic Bus Web site. Developed primarily by College of Engineering students, the site allows viewers to learn when a bus will arrive at a specific stop. The information can be relayed via cell-phone messaging. Bus stop displays currently are being studied for possible future installation.

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