On June 21 BATA (Bay Area Transportation Authority) is rolling out the new Traverse Express to ensure that the public can truly get from here to there, fast, by riding the bus in and around Traverse City.

This new addition to BATA’s current fixed routes will circumnavigate the entire city every hour in two directions. Making stops at key locations around the city, the Traverse Express will guarantee quick and predictable service by creating about a dozen new connections.

“This provides the ability to jump on the bus on one side of town and get off a half hour later on the other, then jump on the bus there and come right back,” said Transportation Services Manager Kurt Braun.

In addition, the existing Airport Road route will now connect with Grand Traverse Mall and the Cherryland Center. For the first time, it will also include regular, scheduled service to Cherry Capital Airport. Until now, the Airport Road route didn’t make connections at either end of its run and BATA did not serve the airport at all except with its dial-a-ride option.

“The new Traverse Express route is going to increase our connectivity with all fixed routes in town,” said Derek Combs, BATA Transportation Services Manager. “It eliminates a lot of layovers. Before, if you were going from the Grand Traverse Mall to Northwestern Michigan College, you had to go all the way to the Transfer Station downtown and then go all the way back out. “It will double the amount of transfer points, which will give passengers more options. This is going to make it so much easier and quicker to get around town.”

BATA hopes the enhanced service will attract people who don’t currently take the bus because of long layovers between connections. Braun said BATA also had business travelers in mind with the airport service. “We’re hoping that it encourages more people to ride the bus,” said Braun. “That’s the goal.”

Traverse Express stops include the Dennos Museum Center, M-Tech, Traverse Bay Intermediate School District at Aero Park, Cherryland Center, BATA South at Cass and Airport Road, the Grand Traverse Mall, Horizon Outlet Mall, Meijer, Tom’s 14th Street and BATA’s Hall Street Transfer Center. Braun and McCombs expect the additional service will be particularly helpful during the National Cherry Festival.

“People will be able to park at outlying locations, and the Traverse Express route will get them downtown in 10 to 20 minutes,” McCombs said. “That way, they avoid parking hassles and traffic.”

In addition, BATA’s Cherriot routes and the Traverse Express will operate on an extended schedule during festival week.

“Our last outbound run is normally at 6:10 p.m., but we will be extending the last outbound run to 11:40 p.m. on week nights and 12:10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday,” McCombs explained.

Braun said BATA will spend the next few months evaluating its outlying routes with the same eye toward increasing efficiency, connectivity and functionality. “We want to give people better, more predictable options,” Braun said, noting that continued modifications are dependent on funding.” And more options are what any rider needs to consider riding a bus.”

For schedules and other information, 231-941-2324, bata.net.