BATA to Grow with Community, Announce New Transit Master Plan

With the population in Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties to rise, the Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) is planning for the future.

BATA is in the early steps of creating a new Transit Master Plan called BATA Next Wave. BATA’s Communications Development Director, Eric Linguar, says they’re excited to get started.

“This is going to be something that we’re actually going to use as a guide and a road map to move BATA forward in the next five to 10 years,” Linguar says. “It’s going to look at ridership data and ridership demand. It’s going to look at growth opportunities in our community. And it’s going to look at what people really want from a public transit perspective.”

Grand Traverse and Leelanau Counties have seen a spike in their population over the past year. According to the Census Bureau, Grand Traverse County has seen nearly 10,000 people move to the area in the past decade. While Leelanau County has seen their population increase 1.4% in the past year.

With the population continuing to rise BATA is hoping to keep up. However, Linguar says they won’t be able to without more workers.

“We’ll be getting feedback from the community, ‘can you add service here, or could you send a bus there.’ BATA needs to have the ability to have staff to meet those needs,” Linguar states.

BATA is hoping to solve their worker shortage with $10,000 in hiring and retention incentives. They are looking for people to work in customer service as well as mechanics and bus drivers.

The Master Plan coincides with construction of their new headquarters. In March, Garfield Township trustees gave the go-ahead for a new BATA headquarters with workforce housing.

“That new headquarters will also play into this mix of what is transportation look like in our community and how we can use that new facility to help spur growth in the rest of the region,” Linguar conveys.

HousingHousing advocates like Ty Schmidt say transportation and housing go hand-in-hand. He says more transportation will make things a little more affordable for new people moving to the area.

“The policy on one side affects the other. When you make transit easy, convenient, reliable all sorts of wonderful things happen,” Schmidt states.

He says he hopes the community makes their voice heard.

“Transit, when we live so far apart from things in this rural county — could change people’s life, really,” Schmidt says.

Click here to access BATA’s survey.

BATA expects to have the results sometime this fall.