University of Michigan reveals plans for Ann Arbor light-rail route

The University of Michigan and the city of Ann Arbor, Mich., yesterday unveiled plans for a 4.7-mile light-rail route that would run from the city’s downtown through parts of the university’s campuses.

The so-called “Connector” line would have nine stations, including stops at the university’s central and north campuses, according to an alternatives analysis report issued yesterday. The route would terminate at the Green Park and Ride on the eastern edge of Ann Arbor.

Capital costs were estimated at $560 million to $680 million, while annual operating costs were pegged at $3.4 million.

The route would serve an average weekday ridership of 31,600 people by 2040, the report said.

The Connector study is being conducted in accordance with the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts program guidance. The program can provide up to 80 percent of the capital cost to construct fixed guideway transit systems, although federal funding generally doesn’t exceed 50 percent of the cost, the report said.

If the community decides to proceed with the light-rail project, a capital funding plan would be developed and the project would be incorporated into the regional transportation funding process.

Local funding sources could include support from both public and private entities, including the University of Michigan, which is “committed to participating in project funding,” the report said.

The university’s faculty, students and staff are expected to make up a large portion of passengers traveling to and from campus destinations.

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