Michigan Flyer Proposes New I-96 Route, Twice as Many Trips to Detroit Airport

From an Indian Trails press release

Michigan Flyer — the airport shuttle service of Indian Trails, Inc., and Okemos Travel — plans to add a new I-96 route this fall,  doubling the number of trips it makes each day between East Lansing and Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

Currently, Michigan Flyer offers luxury motor coach service along the I-94 corridor between East Lansing, Jackson, Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro.

To establish the new route on the I-96 corridor between East Lansing, Howell, Brighton, and the Detroit airport, Michigan Flyer is seeking a one-time grant of $1.5 million from the federal Transportation, Community, and System Preservation Program (TCSP) to help fund start-up operations. The new route is expected to become self-sustaining in its second year of operation.

“The new route will make airport shuttle service available to communities along I-96 for the first time,” said Indian Trails President Gordon Mackay. “It also represents a major improvement in convenience for other travelers in mid-Michigan, because it will double the frequency of trips — from 7 to 14 per day — between East Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro. That will enable us to offer hourly departures, which many passengers have told us they want.”

To begin the new route, Michigan Flyer would contribute $390,000 in matching funds/in-kind value toward operations and invest $1.5 million of its own funds to purchase three new luxury motor coaches.

Public-Private Partnership

The TCSP Program funds public-private partnerships to improve the efficiency of the transportation system, reduce environmental impacts of transportation, reduce the need for costly future public infrastructure investments, and ensure efficient access to jobs, services and centers of trade.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation and studies by many other authorities, public-private partnerships in transportation often result in significant cost savings, shorter project development times, less public sector financial, operational, and maintenance risk, and greater innovation.

Indian Trails and Michigan Flyer are privately owned providers of public transportation services. A significant percentage of Indian Trails inter-city routes statewide are subsidized by the State of Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is sponsoring Michigan Flyer’s application for the TCSP grant. Michigan Flyer plans to begin the new service as early as Nov. 15, 2011, to serve the public during the peak holiday travel season.

The new I-96 project cannot proceed without the TCSP funding.

Green Transportation Alternative

“MDOT realizes that travelers need alternatives to filling their cars with $3.50-per-gallon gasoline, fighting highway congestion, and paying $10-$18 per day for airport parking,” said Indian Trails Vice President Chad Cushman. “MDOT is also interested in reducing air pollution, conserving energy, and improving highway safety.  Michigan Flyer is by far the greenest, most fuel-efficient and safest way to get to the Detroit airport. Plus, with our free WiFi and electrical outlets, passengers stay connected and productive while riding in comfort.”

“Also, Michigan Flyer runs both ways,” Cushman noted. “So the new I-96 route would, for the first time, enable daily commuters from Southeast Michigan, Brighton, and Howell to reach Lansing-area businesses, education and health institutions, and recreation and entertainment venues.”

Support for Michigan Flyer Application

In addition to MDOT, Michigan Flyer’s grant application is supported by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Rep. Mike Rogers, officials at Michigan State University and University of Michigan, the Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, and communities along the I-96 corridor.

“I am impressed by the efforts of Michigan Flyer to improve regional mass transit and enhance the quality of life,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow wrote to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in June. “I hope you will give their proposal your strong consideration.”

On July 5, the Capital Area Regional Transportation Study (CARTS) committee of the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission voted overwhelmingly to recommend planning commission support for Michigan Flyer’s proposal by adding it to the “illustrative list” of transportation improvement projects for TCSP consideration. The planning commission is expected to act on the proposal at its July 27 meeting.

Indian Trails, Inc. — which has served as Michigan’s premiere, family-owned, inter-city motor coach carrier for more than 100 years, and is based  in Owosso—operates one of the largest and newest fleets of deluxe motor coaches in Michigan. Its services include charters, tours, shuttles, airport transfers, casino runs and daily scheduled routes throughout Michigan and into Chicago and Milwaukee.  On the web at http://www.indiantrails.com/.

The Michigan Flyer — whose motto is “Why Drive?” — offers affordable, seamless, luxury motor coach connections between Lansing, Jackson, Ann Arbor, and Detroit Metro Airport. Jointly owned by Indian Trails and Okemos Travel, Michigan Flyer has carried nearly 400,000 passengers since its launch in November 2006 — and has achieved an extraordinary 99 percent rate of on-time arrivals and departures.  On the web at http://www.michiganflyer.com/.