U-M to launch plan for Campus Connector with Industry Day


The University of Michigan is revisiting a Campus Connector transportation concept that would enable people to move between the Central, Medical and North campuses in minutes.

As an initial step, U-M will convene a virtual Industry Day on June 6, where prospective vendors will receive an overview of the project’s goals, scope and requirements.


The university expects to launch a corresponding request for qualifications this summer, inviting potential partners to submit information for the design, construction and long-term operation of the system.

“We’re embarking on a formal process to optimize our university transit network and create a more connected, more cohesive Ann Arbor campus,” said Geoff Chatas, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“As our university community grows, so does the need for a more efficient transportation network. Though we’ve explored the Campus Connector previously, we’re excited to relaunch this initiative, collaborate with surrounding communities and examine ways to build a system that would be fast, convenient, environmentally sustainable and equitable.”

The Campus Connector concept would include a core automated transit system, which serves select hubs via an elevated guideway, as well as a corresponding high-efficiency, high-capacity bus rapid transit system.

Because the automated transit system would not share roadways or otherwise impede regular vehicular traffic, organizers expect the project to decrease local traffic congestion. It also is anticipated to decrease parking demand and increase local economic development opportunities, as it would connect relatively less dense North Campus stations to the Medical and Central campuses.

In addition to providing quicker and more convenient cross-campus transportation, the Connector would aim to complement universitywide work toward carbon neutrality and serve as a model for sustainable mobility.

Although the Connector would increase the university’s energy demand, it would decrease commuting-related greenhouse gas emissions. As U-M seeks to procure 100% of its purchased electricity from renewable sources, the transit system ultimately would derive its energy entirely from renewables.

Concurrently, U-M continues to acquire battery-powered electric buses as it works to electrify its vehicle fleet. Carbon neutrality, climate action and environmental justice are core values in multiple universitywide initiatives, including Vision 2034, Campus Plan 2050 and the Connector project.

U-M has been actively exploring the Campus Connector concept for several years in collaboration with the city of Ann Arbor and various local and regional stakeholders.

The project recently has moved forward alongside Campus Plan 2050, a long-term effort to explore how the Ann Arbor campus should be designed to support the university’s mission, and Vision 2034, which seeks to define what U-M wants to accomplish and how it will evolve over the next 10 years.

The university will share additional information regarding potential technologies, routes and funding sources for the Campus Connector as the project progresses.



  1. Jonathan Levine
    on June 5, 2024 at 4:14 am

    A high-speed, high-capacity transit system between the campuses is needed. To complement the University’s work on sustainable mobility and carbon neutrality, it should be aimed at both: 1. Improving transit speed and capacity between the campuses; 2. Improving transit access from the rest of the city and region to U-M campuses, thus enabling more people to leave their cars at home. Goal #2 would be served by ensuring that the University Connector links to the regional transportation system at both its ends. This can be accomplished by extending it (at a minimum) to the park & ride at Plymouth Road and US23 in the northeast (which has plenty of room to expand), and to the Blake Transit Center in the southwest. The University Connector should also be integrated with the AAATA network. Perhaps the fullest form of integration would be for the system to be based on bus rapid transit (i.e., dedicated transit lanes) with AAATA routes making full use of the improved level of service it offers. Finally, the system should contribute to active transportation, notably by ensuring a solid cycling facility between the campuses.

  2. Sandie Petee
    on June 5, 2024 at 8:36 am

    I certainly hope that the UM will extend this new transit to South Campus! There are a lot of staff and students that can’t afford campus parking, and several of us park for free at the Ross Athletic Campus South Complex/State Street Commuter Lots SC34 and SC22, across from the auto dealer, AAATA route #62. UM, please don’t forget about this part of campus.

  3. Henry Baier
    on June 5, 2024 at 10:51 am

    It’s a game changer! Being able to travel in minutes across the Ann Arbor Campus will enhance the student experience, break down physical barriers to interdisciplinary learning and research, and improve access to medical care. Although this has been planned for years, current automated people mover technology has greatly improved. Powered by renewable energy sources makes it even better than carbon neutral because many individual auto trip emissions will be eliminated. I am wildly supportive and looking forward to next steps U-M!

  4. Alexander Janke
    on June 5, 2024 at 4:48 pm

    As Jonathan Levine points out in his comment, integration with AAATA would be key. Transportation infrastructure investments can make our community 1-more sustainable and 2-more inclusive, but only if we actually build, and we build for everyone…

  5. John Retzer
    on June 6, 2024 at 3:00 pm

    West Virginia University has had an elevated transit system since the mid 1970s. It’s called the Personal Rapid Transit (PRT). On a typical day, it moves 15,000 passengers between five stations along an 8.7 mile track with cars moving at up to 30 mph.

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