What’s News in Northern Transportation: Boats, buses, bikes & more

Da Barhopper:

Downtown TC's New Night Rider

Bar hoppers can now hop on "Da Barhopper," a full-size bus that will pick up and drop off passengers at bars and clubs throughout downtown Traverse City – Holiday Inn, North Peak, Minerva's, Bubba's and Brady's among them – every Thursday, Friday and Saturday between 4 p.m. and 2 a.m. For only $2 a ride, riders can go from any point on the 14-stop route to another. The bus will stop at each location approximately once per hour. Dabarhopper.com, 231-645-FROG.

BATA:

Changes Afoot

Bay Area Transportation (BATA) is adding a new fixed route, the Traverse Express. Two buses will service the hour-long route, each making two connections per hour at the Hall St. and Cass Rd. transfer stations, plus 10 additional stops around the city. Among the stops: Cherryland Mall, Grand Traverse Mall, Horizon Outlet Mall, Meijer, Dennos Museum and M-Tech in Aero Park. The Traverse Express will connect all current Cherriot routes at their outermost edge.

BATA is also cutting or changing in-neighborhood stops in order to reduce bus traffic in three neighborhoods:

Slabtown:

Five bus stops will be eliminated from the neighborhood – two on Cedar St., two on Elmwood, and one on Front St. One stop will be added by Slabtown Burgers on Spruce, near Front St.

Central:

Nine stops will be eliminated in and around the Central Neighborhood. Four will be cut from 12th St., two from 13th St., and three from Oak St. One stop will be added on Pine, next to Griffin St.

Kids Creek:

One stop will be eliminated from Elmwood and one from Medical Campus Dr. One stop will be added on Elmwood near Medical Campus Dr.

BATA Executive Director Tom Menzel says talks are still ongoing about taking over bus duties for Suttons Bay School District, which has cut its student bus service in the face of a minimal $500,000 shortfall next year. He says BATA is working with the district gather the necessary information on ridership, and BATA officials recently met with kindergartners and parents last week.

The saga over the much-coveted BATA Trolley, for which two local livery services contend they won in a bidding auction last winter, isn't over. Michael Bryan, owner of New York Luxury Limo, says he is currently working with a lawyer to pursue a nonperformance suit against BATA; meanwhile, Menzel says BATA plans to publish an ad for the sale of the vehicle before early June.

Sleeping Bear Boat Cruise:

Bigger, Better

On June 1, a brand new cruise boat – owned by one-year-old Sleeping Bear Dunes Boat Cruises – will launch from Frankfort's shores: the "Lady Michigan." The near 65-foot, 149-seat boat, which sports several glass-bottom viewing areas, boasts twin diesel John Deere engines that power state-of-the-art stabilizers to keep the boat steady, even in waves.

Each day through October, the Lady Michigan will offer daily mid-morning tours (sunset cruises start June 18) of the bluffs, beaches, and dunes along the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It'll also float passengers past three lighthouses and the legendary Crystal Downs Area, designed by famed private golf course architect Alistair MacKenzie.

Modeled after the successful Pictured Rock Cruises on Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula, Sleeping Bear Dunes Cruises business model allows for passengers to bring aboard their own food, have pre-ordered meals from nearby Crescent Bakery delivered to the dock, or purchase chips, soda or water – no alcohol – onboard.

Prices for the Sleeping Bear Dunes Boat Cruise are $33 for adults, $10 for children 6 – 12, and free for children 5 and under. Special group rates are available and on-site kennel services are available free of charge. sleepingbeardunescruise.com, 888.469.4696.

Benzie Bus HQ:

On Schedule

Bolstered by $2 million in federal funds, the Benzie Transportation Authority has been moving and shaking on the construction and renovations of its new digs. Executive Director Susan Miller says they're just about to erect the steel structure of the new bus garage and are aiming to have that portion of the job completed by June 1 and move in by August; renovations on the existing headquarters – home to the authority's administrative offices and bus shelter – are on schedule to commence this fall and should be complete by this time next year.

Smart Commute Week:

Get on the Bus Y'all

Curious about catching the bus but never tried? Here's your chance: As part of TC's annual Smart Commute Week (June 7 – 11th), you and hundreds of other regional commuters are invited to "Try Transit" – i.e., riding any of the five different bus lines that connect 16+ villages with TC – as an alternative to driving your cars on June 9.

Unlike the familiar dial-a-ride service, these buses bring commuters to the downtown BATA Transit Center on Hall Street on a guaranteed schedule.

What's a bus ride get you? Besides a less stressful, less impactful lift to work than when you drive your own car, heaps of incentives and activities to enjoy at the end of your bus line:

Morning Commute Fun

– Free Commuter Breakfasts 7-9am, at

the BATA Transit Center catered by

the Warehouse Lounge and at

Hagerty Insurance

– Two free yoga classes at Yen Yoga,

330 E. Front Street. 8:00 a.m.

Hot Yoga, 8:30 a.m. Vinyasa Flow.

Commute Home Activities

– SCW Happy Hour at Right Brain

Brewery, 5-7pm

– BATA will run a special late bus on

their three Village Connectors

departing the Transit Center at

7:00 p.m.

– Happy hour prices for smart

commuters until 7pm all week

– Find bus route maps and more

information at bata.net.

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