CATA votes to suspend, not end controversial bus plan

A controversial busing plan isn’t dead…it’s just on life support.

The Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) proposed the BRT – or “Bus Rapid Transit” – as a new way to shuttle people to and from downtown Lansing to East Lansing and Meridian Township.

The project would have used high-capacity buses in a dedicated lane.

As recently as January, CATA officials said they were “highly optimistic” about the future of the BRT.

After months of trying to make it work, CATA asked its board to discontinue the project.

But the board unanimously voted to suspend the program, not end it.

Project Manager Brad Funkhouser cited two main reasons for ending the project.

The first is President Trump’s proposed budget – which Funkhouser says would end the Capital Investment Grants – the program that would have funded the BRT. There may be some money to finish funding existing projects, he said, but the future beyond that is unclear.

“It was pretty clear in that budget that he (Trump) wants that money out,” Funkhouser said late last week.

The second reason is that he’s been working with the public to address their concerns and make the project more palatable. But he says incorporating those changes would now take $720,000 worth of modeling and design work.

“As good stewards of public money, I don’t think this is the best way to move forward at this point,” he said.

But the board voted to put the project on hold, which could lead to its revival if the political and funding situation changes.

The proposal ran into opposition almost as soon as it was proposed. Meridian Township officials went on the record as opposing it. Michigan State University, East Lansing, and the local Chamber of Commerce had lots of questions and concerns.

 

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