Bus routes expand
Soon, NAU students living west of campus will have an easier time getting to their classes, as the city is drawing up plans to add a new Mountain Line route that runs through campus.
The Flagstaff City Council met on Nov. 16 and recommended to adopt Resolution No. 2010-71, which approves cooperation between the city of Flagstaff, NAU and the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transit Authority (NAIPTA) for forming a new bus route that would link downtown and the Woodlands Village area to the NAU campus.
The new route has a target completion of fall 2011, and will run from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every 10-15 minutes.
Kevin Burke, city manager for Flagstaff, said the new bus route has been coming for some time.
“It was passed by the voters in 2008,” Burke said. “NAU is one of the largest untapped populations for public transit, with people going on and off of campus. It makes sense to try to address public transit for that group so you get the most efficiency.”
Mark Garrett, a junior speech therapy major and resident in the Woodlands Village apartment complex, said he was excited to hear about the new route and plans to ride the bus regularly once it is instated.
“I honestly kind of like it,” Garrett said. “I know a lot of times — especially with the weather and how it’s been — walking from my apartment complex to class, normally, it’s not that far. The distance hasn’t changed, but with the snow and the ice, it adds a lot of time. If the bus was reliable, it would make things a lot easier with getting to class on time.”
Garrett said any traffic increases caused by the route snaking through campus would be worth the benefits for students living off campus.
“As far as around Woodlands Village, it’s busy already,” Garrett said. “There are always cars going up and down University [Drive], and I don’t think there’d be much of a difference. On campus, I could see where some people might not like that there are a lot more buses going around, but at the same time, I hear a lot of people complaining about the current campus bus system. I think it would balance out — yeah, there’d be a lot more traffic, but students would be able to get to campus easier.”
Jeff Meilbeck, general manager of NAIPTA, said one of the features of the new transit route will lessen this possible traffic increase.
“The best thing about the new route is the dedicated bus-only transit way,” Meilbeck said. “This will provide a ‘short-cut’ through the most congested parts of campus for buses, bikes and pedestrians.”
Meilbeck also said adding the new route through campus moves toward NAIPTA’s overall goal: making mass transit the better choice.
“NAIPTA’s vision is to make transit services an excellent choice for northern Arizona communities,” Meilbeck said. “In order for people to choose transit, it has to be high-quality and highly accessible. By providing 10-minute frequency service in comfortable buses through the center of campus, the new route should be an excellent choice for NAU students, faculty and staff.”