GTPulse: Make BATA Your Designated Driver

A new partnership with Lyft gets late night bayline riders home even after buses stop running.

Friday nights are for relaxing, hanging out and going out. Traverse City has a lively bar scene and after a long work week it’s nice to be able to unwind with a few drinks, but it’s not nice to drive after enjoying those drinks. BATA’s new partnership with Lyft takes all the stress out of driving and parking in downtown TC.

Eric Lingaur is the communications director for BATA and he gave me some insight in to the many wonderful services that BATA offers. Although BATA has been around since 1985 they’re taking a new and fresh approach to public transportation by offering various different transportation programs. Not only does BATA service all of Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties, with typical fixed route services they also do old-school demand response services. Demand response allows riders to call BATA and have a bus pick them up from their home. Riders can even schedule a bus in advance to come pick them up.

“We want people to use public transportation. If we’re not going the places that people wanna go or operating at the times people want us to operate we’ve gotta switch up our formula so that we make sure we meet those needs,” Eric said.

BATA is meeting people’s needs in a new, fresh way. During events like National Cherry Festival or Traverse City Film Festival the busses will run until the early hours of the morning, however that’s not typical for the bus schedule. BATA’s bayline buses are a free, sponsored bus. The buses run until 11pm, and for bar hoppers the night is just getting started at 11. A new partnership with Lyft will get riders home at the end of the night on BATA’s dime.

Every month the bayline buses will have an exclusive Lyft code that riders can use to request a Lyft between the hours of 11pm and 1am. The Lyft rides are restricted to the bayline route. Riders will enter the code of the month in to their Lyft app when they need a ride and will not be charged as long as rides are within 0.2 of the bayline route.

There are many factors to consider when planning a night out. Finding and paying for parking can be a hassle and when a group is going out together it can quickly turn in to an argument on who’s going to be the designated driver in the group. Utilizing the free bayline busses to get to your destination is a simple answer to theses queries.

Eric and I took a ride on a bayline bus and it was clean, comfortable and pleasant. On top of that it was a hot day and the bus was air conditioned. No peeling bare legs off of hot seats here. We rode the bus from the Hall Street station to Meijer and I met frequent rider Cole Onthank. Cole rides the bayline often and loves the service.

“It’s a great place to meet new people and it’s nice to ride. I enjoy the ride and I’m so happy that we have something like this.”

BATA truly has options for everybody, and their new partnership with Lyft is yet another innovative way that they’re working to make the bus an asset to all community members. With a bayline bus making a stop every 15 minutes, it’s an easy choice for in-town transportation whether you’re going out for drinks or just want to relax and not stress over traffic and parking.

I have always been unfamiliar with public transportation. As a kid I walked to school, and as a young adult I have never lived in a city large enough to warrant a need for using public transportation. I have a few new friends in Traverse City, and none of them utilize the BATA busses. I began to wonder if the busses aren’t used as often as they could be because of Traverse City’s perceived small town feel. 15,000 + residents live in Traverse City, which would not be considered a small town by a few definitions. So why are people not filling the busses? Many just haven’t considered the ways that BATA can make their day easier. BATA busses are great for the elderly, but they’re also a great way to have a night on the town responsibly. Party on.

Categories: GTPulse