Traverse City Record-Eagle

June 2, 2012

BATA to collect data for new website

By MARK URBAN
murban@record-eagle.com

TRAVERSE CITY — The Bay Area Transportation Authority is looking for a few good volunteers.

BATA is conducting an inventory of its 150 fixed-route stops as part of a grant to create a new website. The data collected will be used by BATA so riders can better access online information.

"We'll look for things like (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessibility, lighting, whether there is a bike rack nearby, whether the TART Trail touches it, whether or not we have a shelter and what the signage is, what the height of it is and what it looks like," said Carrie Thompson, director of business development at BATA.

Determining GPS coordinates for the stops also is part of the project.

"Then we'll put those into a spreadsheet and we'll upload them to Google Maps, which will in the future interface with our website and so what you'll be able to do is put where you are and it will tell you the closest stop," Thompson said.

Mike Woods, a regional planner with the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments and a Grand Vision member, will lead a volunteer training session from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday at the NWMCOG offices at 600 E. Front St.

Thompson said BATA hopes to have the inventory of its stops completed by July 15. BATA wants its new website up and running by August.

"Our website is very old and pretty much out of date," Thompson said. "We can't do many things with it. We joke that it was probably one of the first five ever built."

After the information is available on the new website, BATA's long-range plan is to provide route information remotely.

"A year or so from now, what we want to do is be able to tap into our mobile data terminals that we're also getting a grant for and be able to open up that information so we can tell whether the bus is running on time or behind and you'll be able to access all of that from your mobile phone," Thompson said.

Thompson said only a handful of volunteers are needed, but no one will be turned away.

"We're only looking for five or six," she said. "Anybody that wants to help, we'll certainly take them and get them interested in what we're doing. Any volunteer is great."

Volunteers able to record the stops with a digital camera or smartphone are also needed. To register or for more information, contact Woods at michaelwoods@nwm.cog.mi.us or 929-5091.