City revises Tech bus route

HOUGHTON – Houghton bus routes for Michigan Technological University students and staff are being revised to make the service more desirable for riders.

The city has been working with the Michigan Technological University Transportation Enterprise team, which is looking at the transit systems in Houghton and Hancock, City Manager Scott MacInnes said. The team came up with a team of six route buses throughout the two cities.

The initial move will be a small change to the present route. Tech will contribute half the cost of the new bus, about $17,500. Tech students and faculty will ride for free.

Until now, the route bus has been a one-hour route starting at Tech and running through the Daniell Heights Apartments, downtown and the M-26 district. The length of the route has deterred many riders, MacInnes said.

Starting Sept. 1, the system will switch to a half-hour route starting at Tech and going to downtown, the M-26 district to Sharon Avenue, Dodge Street to Arbor Green, over to Heritage Manor and back up to Michigan Tech.

“Ridership on that will be a lot better,” MacInnes said. “Certainly with all the students and faculty that ride for free, we’ll have significant ridership.”

Hours will change from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to the new time of noon to 6 p.m.

Tech is discontinuing its night bus for students due to low ridership, MacInnes said. If the response to the route bus is big enough, additional routes may be added, MacInnes said.

“We’re hoping to take the big bus that we had wrapped for FinnFest and put a Tech theme on that one,” MacInnes said.

In other action, the council:

set a public hearing for Aug. 28 on a proposed ordinance to rezone property owned by U.P. Kids along Midland Avenue between MacInnes Drive and Fairview Street. The property would be rezoned from R-3 (multi-family) to B-3 (general business). The rezoning would have two conditions: Only R-3 use groups would be allowed on the property and the rezoning will only go into effect upon the sale of the property.

heard a report from Department of Public Works Supervisor Mark Zenner. The city may be able to receive funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to repair boardwalks at the Nara Nature Park damaged in last spring’s floods.

heard a report from Police Chief John Donnelly. Since the previous meeting, there have been 191 calls to service, 11 misdemeanor arrests, one felony, 25 civil infraction tickets and 11 city tickets.

heard an update on the water and sewer projects from Zenner. Work was being done on Ruby Street Wednesday. Over the next few weeks, east Houghton work will be concentrated on Agate Street and Ruby, Jasper and Houghton avenues.

approved B-3 zoning for a new dealership for Kissel Chevrolet by the former OfficeMax building. The new facility will meet the city’s restrictions for items include enclosed repair areas and surface runoff.

appointed Joan Suits to the Portage Lake District Library Board.

heard the Family Fun Day will take place from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 26 at the Ray Kestner Waterfront Park.