The Ann Arbor Connector, a partnership between the city of Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan, the Ann Arbor Development Authority and the Ann Arbor Area Transit Authority, has selected a 7.7km, nine-station alignment for a light rail line connecting the city centre, the Central and North Campus of the university, Plymouth Road and Main Street.

The project is estimated to cost between $US 560-680m and would be built in two phases, with funding coming from a mixture of federal and local sources.

The first phase would extend from Plymouth Road/US Route 23 into the city centre, providing connections between the major trip generators at the university and central districts. The second phase of the system would extend the line south from the city centre to Briarwood Mall near the intersection of State Street and Interstate 94.

The study evaluated LRT and bus rapid transit and concluded that LRT would provide a better long-term, sustainable solution consistent with the project goals. While BRT would have lower initial capital costs, annual operating costs would be substantially higher than a rail-based system. The forecast level of passenger demand would also exceed the practical capacity of a BRT system.

The next step toward implementation of the Ann Arbor Connector is conceptual design and environmental review.