The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor provides buses for students to more easily traverse the multiple campuses spread across the city. And now the University is making it easier for students to engage with the City of Detroit, situated only forty miles east of Ann Arbor. This fall they launched the MConnector project that will run University Blue Buses between the Ann Arbor campus and the University’s Detroit Center in Midtown.
Beginning in early October, University of Michigan students have been able to make reservations or simply walk onto the bus that shuttles them from Ann Arbor to Detroit. The University was founded in Detroit and many student groups on the Ann Arbor campus focus on building relationships with the City, now made easier by this opportunity for students to explore Detroit on their own. The project is in a pilot period, with funding from the University’s Transforming Learning for the Third Century Fund, which allows students and faculty to ride the shuttle for free on Fridays and Saturdays.
The beginning of the MConnector project offers a chance for University of Michigan students to engage in the workings, on many different levels, of a city that poses many unique and foretelling urban planning issues, like some of those that I have explored here on Global Site Plans. Buses between Ann Arbor and Detroit will hopefully allow students to explore the city, getting off at stops in Mexicantown, Downtown, and Midtown, and abolish any negative stereotypes about Detroit they may have picked up from media attention given to it in the past few decades. Those behind the project also hope the Connector will allow Detroiters greater access to Ann Arbor and the University of Michigan community and resources.
Considering the history of racism and segregation in Metro Detroit and others like it, how can projects like the MConnector seek to facilitate responsible and respectful relationships between suburbs and city?
Credits: Data linked to sources. Images by Meg Mulhall.