TRAVERSE CITY — All quiet — or mainly so — on the 4 p.m. public bus run from Tom’s East Bay.
Three passengers hopped on and off over the next hour as the bus looped around Traverse City, from downtown through Northwestern Michigan College to the East Bay Tom’s Food Market and back downtown again.
“The City Loops are usually pretty busy, but sometimes less so in the afternoons,” said Megan Bardenhagen, a regular on Bay Area Transit Authority buses who caught a ride this week from NMC up to Suttons Bay.
Rene Jeffries, the bus driver, said rider traffic typically slows during the winter, but generally the route is quite popular.
BATA officials are looking to make City Loops more attractive. The five different routes snake through Traverse City at fixed stops and four always end up at the Hall Street transfer station, which connects them to the outer areas. Kelly Yaroch, BATA’s director of human resources and operations, said there are 314,448 rides annually on the City Loop buses.
“We currently have many stops in close proximity to each other,” Yaroch said. “We think we might be able to consolidate some of those stops and allow for further-reaching routes.”
Yaroch said City Loops began more than 10 years ago and need to be updated to reflect community, economic and other changes in the subsequent decade. Bus service could extend to places like the Arbors of Traverse apartments and the Village at Grand Traverse Commons and add more frequent trips to Cherry Capital Airport.
Potential new routes likely would eliminate less popular stops and consolidate stops that are close together, Yaroch said.
Yaroch said that no decisions have been made and BATA officials want more public feedback about possible changes that would be enacted in October.
Jeffries already envisions some changes to her route. The Grand Traverse County Senior Center Network stop at the north end of Barlow Street only netted about three passengers in the three months she’s driven through.