You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Wed, Aug 19, 2009 : 9:35 p.m.

AATA board officially cuts Link service, approves contract for new park-and-ride

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's Board of Directors voted tonight to eliminate the Link bus service, but said it would continue discussing ways to provide transit service downtown with the city's Downtown Development Authority.

"The Link service will be stopping because funds from the partners who were providing the funding for that service have stopped," said AATA board chairman David Nacht. "This is a painful and difficult decision because this is a service we really pushed hard and it was closely identified with our agency."

link pix.jpg

Since 2005, the AATA, DDA and University of Michigan Parking and Transportation Services had a partnership to jointly fund the operation of the Link downtown circulator route, which helped link university students with businesses and other destinations.

The DDA's governing board took action June 3 to discontinue funding for the Link, but indicated it will consider a new downtown transit service in the future. Following the DDA, U-M's Parking and Transportation Services decided not to continue funding the Link and to directly operate bus service between U-M's Central Campus and Oxford student housing to the east.

As a result, the funding and function for the Link no longer exist, AATA officials said.

"My wife's going to be very disappointed," said Ted Annis, an AATA board member. "I've got to go home and tell her now, 'No more purple bus.'"

In other action, the AATA board voted 5-0 to award a $1.14 million contract to D&R Earthmoving of Howell for the construction of a new park-and-ride lot on Plymouth Road. The AATA received construction bids from six companies, and D&R was the lowest bidder, agency leaders said.

AATA officials said the project involves extensive drainage work, a new traffic signal, lighting, signage, and about 245 parking spaces. About $1.5 million is set aside for the project, and board approval would be required before making any changes that would exceed that.

Ypsilanti officials concerned over AATA costs

Ypsilanti officials showed up at tonight's meeting to voice concerns over AATA's rising costs in the city.

S.A. Trudy Swanson-Winston, Ypsilanti's mayor pro-tem, said the city wants to work with the AATA to avoid a 30 percent increase in the city's contractual costs over the next three years. She urged AATA board members to look hard to find some way of lessening the burden.

Michael Bodary, a Ypsilanti City Council member, said he's been looking at the costs of keeping open the Ypsilanti Transit Center, where he says a quarter of the city's police incident calls come from.

"That's too much," he said of the calls, which he says are straining public safety resources in Ypsilanti. "I've had citizens come to me and say maybe it's time we close it."

Peter Murdock, another council member, said Ypsilanti's viewpoint is that survival of the transit system is predicated on development of a regional transit system. AATA officials indicated that's their goal.

"We're a regional economy, and we want to be a regional transit service," Nacht said.

"Let's do it," Murdock responded.

The city of Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township both have informed the AATA that they will not be able to pay the entire amount of their "purchase of service" agreements next year and beyond, which could lead to service cuts. AATA board members had a proposal before them tonight from CEO Michael Ford to consider using federal stimulus funds allocated to AATA to temporarily avoid service cuts in those municipalities.

Board members decided to hold off on a decision on that resolution, pending more discussion.

Annis said he wants to put a stop to Ann Arbor taxpayers subsidizing transit services in Ypsilanti and elsewhere and find creative cost-cutting solutions. He urged Ypsilanti officials to attend the AATA's next Planning and Development Committee meeting to talk more.


Anthony Clark

Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 8:39 p.m.

So the Ypsi Transit Center is placing an undue burden on the city, particularly police services? Many people are riding the bus to get to jobs. Most of these people do not own cars and would not be able to hold a job without transportation (that the bus provides). There would be a lot more crime if all these people had no jobs and nowhere to go. Ypsilanti wants it both ways. They want a regional transportation system, but they don't want to pay their fair share.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 6:08 p.m.

I don't know how anyone could even think of closing the Ypsilanti Transit Center. What type of alternative could possibly serve the hundreds or thousands of bus passgengers who use that station every day? Furthermore, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Twp simply must find a way to continue funding bus service for their residents. If the city of Ypsilanti can find ways to operate the Transit Center more economically, fine, but it's irresponsible to even suggest that it be closed.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 1:11 p.m.

AATA put out the following press release today: ANN ARBOR, MI Following decisions by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to stop funding the Link downtown circulator and the University of Michigan to operate the campus portion of the service with its own buses, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) Board of Directors has reluctantly approved a resolution to discontinue the Link service. On behalf of AATA, Board Chair David Nacht said, I believe that a free downtown circulator strengthens our downtown businesses, but, currently, we lack the resources to fund it. Public input on the proposal to eliminate the service was gathered during the month before the board had to make its decision. In addition to discontinuing the Link, AATA will implement the following bus service changes: Selected trips on Routes 2, 3, 4 and 36 resume operation on Monday, August 31. These trips do not operate during the summer months. Route 4 - Washtenaw Timing for many trips to Ann Arbor is being adjusted to compensate for the relocation out of the Arborland shopping center onto Washtenaw Avenue. Route 5 - Packard The Packard & South Boulevard timepoint is being renamed as Packard & Stadium. Route 7 - South Main-East The last four trips to Downtown Ann Arbor on weekday evenings will leave Washtenaw Community College at seven minutes past the hour. On Sunday, all trips leaving the Blake Transit Center will end at Washtenaw and Huron Parkway and all trips to downtown Ann Arbor will begin at Washtenaw and Huron Parkway. Route 33 EMU Shuttle The service will resume operation on Wednesday, September 9. AATA would also like to alert riders to expect detours and delays of its bus routes during the upcoming University of Michigan student move-in days from September 2 through 4 and during U-M home football games. AATA route, schedule and detour information is available at and 734.996.0400.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 11:43 a.m.

The transit center is staffed during the day. I've spoken to someone who works there, and calling the police is a regular part of the job. While the police are called there a lot, I think they are often called to prevent situations from escalating. And many of those situations are just high school kids getting into fights. I think the alternative to these calls would be a smaller number of calls for more serious crimes after the fact. I ride the bus to work a few times a week. And I've always felt safe at the bus stop. Having someone watching during the day, and the police nearby, seems like a good system.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 10:40 a.m.

So, is it people from Ann Arbor riding the bus into Ypsilanti that are committing all these crimes there? The whole local contractor thing does not have much foresight, and that is the kind of seperatist attitude that many people mock Detroit for in their business dealings. There are many things that are taken into consideration when an entity that recieves tax dollars considers bids. Cost is obviously one of the more important factors, but there are things such as time to complete the work, reliability or reputation of the contractor and work force, just to name a few, that would be taken into consideration.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 9 a.m.

The authority doesn't award contracts solely based on the price submitted (that would be irresponsible). The two low bids in this project were very close in price. Federal procurement requirements are geared toward maintaining 'fair' price competition over almost everything else (so there had better be a really good reason to select a bid whose price isn't near the low end of the spectrum received). Currently, local preferencing is not a good enough reason to override cost considerations.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 8:21 a.m.

When considering contractor bids, the lowest bid is seldom the best. What I find interesting is there is no mention of considering an Ann Arbor based contractor first. Those of us, who live in Ann Arbor, are asked to give our hard earned tax dollars to support mass transit. Many of us never ride the ride but instead are taken for a ride at the voting booth. With the national economy in ruin we should consider Ann Arbor based companies first, and Michigan based companies second. Lest we remember charity starts at home.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 7:44 a.m.

If one quarter of police calls do come from there, maybe its time for upped targeted enforcement. I agree that it is the area rather than the bus stop. I love dueling pianos until they shine that damn light.


Thu, Aug 20, 2009 : 7:30 a.m.

Me too. Are they really all directly related to the bus station itself, or just that general area? I would think that the station's proximity to the Vu and various bars and nightclubs a stone's through away from the station might have something to do with it.

Laura Bien

Wed, Aug 19, 2009 : 11:06 p.m.

That is interesting that Mr. Bodary says that 25% of Ypsilanti's police incident calls arise from the downtown bus station. I for one would be very interested to know the source of this information.