Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Taking the backyard out of NIMBY

The VA Hospital on Fuller Road has a bus shuttle service that runs between the hospital and Huron Hills Church on Glazier Way, where the VA is leasing 200 parking spots for employees. Residents along Glazier Way are upset about the noise from the two buses, which run on a continuous loop from 6 am to 6 pm. Below you can see the route the buses take. Feel free to explore it.

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To me it looks like the area around the shuttle bus route is pretty sparsely populated aside from the condos in the north east corner of the Huron Parkway and Glazier Way intersection. It should be noted that this is where many of the complaints are originating. That being said, it's not like those condos or many other structures are really close to the shuttle bus route. There are several choice quotes from the Com's article about the row. I think this one from Glazier Way Association head Rick Ratliff takes the cake:
"Here we have two non-taxpaying entities conspiring on a revenue-generating project without even consulting the people in the neighborhood or, apparently, without considering the zoning requirements," he wrote in an email to Rapundalo this week. "If this is allowed to stand in one of the more affluent neighborhoods in Ann Arbor, then no neighborhood is safe."
Indeed. Won't someone think of the rich people? Maybe these buses are super noisy, but I doubt that these two shuttles running constantly for 12 hours a day adds a great deal to the total volume of traffic on Glazier. Some quick math:
Let's assume the buses make four round trips per hour. That's eight uses of the road times two buses, or 16 uses of the road per hour. That means the buses are going up and down Glazier 196 times per day. This is a generous estimate considering the complaining residents in the Com's article say buses go by every 10 minutes. 16 road uses per hour corresponds to a shuttle going by every 3.75 minutes.
According to the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study during a 24 hour period in 1997, there were between 1790 and 1950 vehicles counted east and west of Wolverhampton, the road roughly between Huron Parkway and Huron Hills Church. So the buses add slightly more than 10% to the road segment's 1997 traffic volume. There is no data for the road segment by Wolverhampton since 1997. Glazier was paved in 2000 and it is safe to assume traffic has increased in the last decade: in 2001 4550 vehicles were counted during a 24 hour period on Glazier, west of Huron Parkway; in 2004 4785 vehicles were counted west of Earhart. Depending on how you want to estimate, the VA's shuttle service is probably adding somewhere between 2% and 5% to the road's total traffic volume. I am not a traffic engineer, but that doesn't seem like a lot to me.

What really gets my goat is that the shuttle buses are temporary--just until the VA can build more on site parking. Yet the residents are trying to get a more "immediate" solution. Maybe the buses are loud. And maybe they could be made quieter. But I really don't see what the big deal is here. I realize NIMBY-ism is about people's what people consider their "turf," not their literal backyards. Still, complaining about buses using the road that your road connects to? Get serious folks.

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