Thursday, January 18, 2007

UM staff may get a free ride

The Mayor continues to build momentum on his goal for commuter rail service between Howell and Ann Arbor. Hieftje announced that UM has offered to pay for its employees to use the service. Note that while the Mayor pins the promise on Hank Baier, associate vice president for UM facilities and operations, there are no official promises from the university just yet. Also still missing is the rail service that they would ride. UofM backing is a great boost for this project, and hopefully this is a step closer to realizing some inter-city transit options. But for now, chickens should remian uncounted.

It's not clear whether it is the AANews or the Mayor who is implying a link between the commuter rail and more parking structures downtown. The article drifts towards foreboding vagueries about how more downtown parking is inevitable but at the same time, no one is advocating it. If they are trying to say that free train rides for UM staff will reduce downtown parking demand, we don't buy it. Any mode swith would be from people currently parking in UM blue lots. But that doesn't mean we don't need to invest in some additional infrastructure, both for transit and parking. Hopefully the DDA's coomprehensive parking study will give us more info on what the parking needs will be. We wonder how that same info might be used to support the North-South commuter rail as well.

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