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Posted on Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

AATA jump-starting countywide expansion plan with Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti improvements

By Ryan J. Stanton

Upcoming transit improvements connecting Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are the topic of another public rider forum planned for Thursday evening.

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority is planning to double the number of weekday bus trips that operate on Route 4, primarily along Washtenaw Avenue, between the Blake Transit Center in downtown Ann Arbor and the Ypsilanti Transit Center.

Those improvements will be discussed in detail at the forum at 5:30 p.m., an hour prior to the AATA's regular board meeting.

The forum and the meeting both take place inside the downtown Ann Arbor District Library, 343 South Fifth Ave.


Riders board buses at the Blake Transit Center in downtown Ann Arbor.

Ryan J. Stanton |

AATA officials issued a news release announcing the rider forum in which they said the agency is planning to "jump-start" the countywide expansion of transit services with the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti transit improvements.

"Public transit plays a key role in our regional economy by moving people between where they live and where they work," AATA CEO Michael Ford said in a statement.

"A significant increase in weekday service between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, combined with an expansion of the Night Ride service area into downtown Ypsilanti, will better serve employees who need to get to their jobs and employers who need access to workers and customers."

The agency has laid out an aggressive agenda for the next year as it builds momentum for the countywide expansion and is running a deficit budget to do so.

In addition to the service improvements between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, the AATA is continuing with plans to launch shuttle service to Detroit Metropolitan Airport and to expand its vanpool program as components of the countywide transit plan. The airport shuttle service is expected to be up and running this spring, possibly April or May.

Ford told the Ann Arbor City Council last week recent discussions have indicated anything the AATA might be doing to expand transit services countywide "would be less than 1 mill" in terms of a countywide tax. Ann Arbor residents already pay 2 mills and Ypsilanti residents pay 1 mill, and those millages are expected to be transferred to the new countywide authority.

A financial task force assembled by AATA officials still is studying the issue and is expected to issue a report with funding recommendations in the coming weeks. The agency also is coming out with a refined five-year countywide service plan.

AATA officials said workers who use the AATA's buses to commute between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti will benefit from a significant increase in not only frequency of service, but also late-night, door-to-door services when the service changes take effect Jan. 29.

The improvements are in response to input received over the course of the 18-month process to develop a countywide transportation plan, AATA officials said.

With the improvements, weekday riders will be able to use the bus later in the night and earlier in the morning, with Route 4 operating from 6:08 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. to Ann Arbor and 6:48 a.m. to 10:48 p.m. to Ypsilanti. Ridership on Route 4 has the highest ridership among all of AATA's routes, with more than 800,000 trips taken each year.

More than 3,000 trips occur on Route 4 on the average weekday.

"The expansion and improvement of these services to make them more reliable and convenient is an important step as we begin to implement the community's vision for countywide public transit," Ford said, noting it also is a critical element of Re-imagine Washtenaw, a collaborative regional planning effort to improve the corridor.

Also going into effect on Jan. 29 is a change in routing on two trips on the Route 2 bus service along Plymouth Road.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Pixie Belle

Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

That's nice and all but what about the 4 on Sunday. It is a sardine can of human bodies and only runs once an hour.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 10:28 p.m.

That is so true. Although you could opt for a later bus.

Jack Eaton

Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 4:28 p.m.

Expanding our transit system to serve the whole county represents an important infrastructure improvement. Both Grand Rapids and Lansing have expanded their systems to cover the areas surrounding the core city. A workable expansion, however, requires a clear plan that has broad community support. That plan should start with a clear explanation of the promised service and include only those elements that serve the taxable area. A plan should demonstrate that the service will be improved in ways that deserve the support of communities who do not currently contribute a millage. The plan should not include service to areas outside the taxed communities. For example, it should not include commuter train service to communities that have declined to offer financial support to operate such service. The plan should include a method of financing the promised service. In both the Grand Rapids and Lansing service areas, a uniform millage is paid by all areas. Here, the county wide millage should be uniform for city and non-city residents. Let the promised service improvements in the non-city areas be the selling point for the new tax. The city should remove its transit tax from the charter when the county wide tax is passed. Passing the 4 party transit agreement before acquiring the support of the taxpayers is like buying commuter rail cars before the tracks are improved and before identifying operating funding. Show the taxpayers the service that will be provided and then ask whether they will support those promised services through a millage before forming the county-wide transit authority. Otherwise, you may find that when you ask for the funding the voters will express their collective distrust by rejecting the millage. Lets hope that when our leaders speak of other transit systems that have expanded to serve metropolitan areas, we use examples from Michigan that are of similar size, rather than Portland, Oregon.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

Back in November reported the following: "Ypsilanti approves 9 month contract with AATA as funding shortfall is projected" "Next fiscal year, the transportation millage Ypsilanti has in place to fund bus service is projected to fall approximately $60,000 short of the AATA's cost of service. But Chris White, manager of service development for the AATA, said the agency wants to avoid service cuts, though how to do that is "a question we don't have an answer for yet." That solution isn't needed until fiscal year 2013, he said. He explained that AATA officials met with City Manager Ed Koryzno last week and learned that the transportation millage is projected to generate less than the AATA assumed. "The situation is worse than we understood it at that time," he said. SO I guess AATA is going "all in" on this currently losing bet. It's only taxpayer money anyway.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

The bus service is crap in the Ypsilanti area. Doubling of fares and passes to a system that is ran by the union and UofM. Drivers letting passengers stand and gab with them at by front of bus, when seats are available, and in-and-out going customers must crawl over them. Drivers that don't stop radio playing, eating on buses, .. though posted -- only have to blame a unionized shop and management that has caved. They waste millions on a new AATA building, which the previous setup was adequate, at the expense of bus lines for the community. Keep reeling in the fed $$$ and not improving the service, which has occurred over the last 3-5 years. The system is crap. Before moving to this area over a 20 years span I rode busses in Milwaukee, Columbus (OH), Ft. Wayne (IN), .. that we more attractive and customer equipped.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 5:57 p.m.

As though the Plymouth and Wahstenaw lines encompassed a county-wide overhaul. UofM pays a miniscule fee for their students .. to ride free, yet at the same time the bus fares/passes for all others are doubled, ... -- talk about a community service. With all fed dollars upgrade the service were it's a disaster and all the useless drivers are shifted. Drivers starting and making over $55K a year what a joke. Industrial H.O. that does extensive customer walk-in service but has no rest rooms for their patrons. The AATA if a flop of a system, where their TOP DOGS are getting obnoxious financial perks, let them ride their system to work like the customers whose federal dollars are paying their exorbitant salaries, healthcare and pensions --- again unions and hierarchy greed.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 3:37 p.m.

Ypsi could look like the Blake. The ones standing for the bus in Ypsi have to stand in the rain while the ones at Blake stay nice and cozy. If anything, Ypsi needs the improvements not Ann Arbor. At least they are there when we need them.

Karen Sidney

Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 2:14 p.m.

To read about an email sent by council member Mike Anglin on the plan to give Ann Arbor's transit millage to a county authority see these two posts on A2Politico <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Barb's Mom

Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Why is it called &quot;Countywide expansion of transit services&quot;? Last time I looked at a map, Washtenaw County included more than Wastenaw ave and Plymouth Rd.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

Boy, I 'm going to remember who transferred these funds to a new country wide authority without askin'!! What about running more high school friendly routes in town, huh? What a bunch of manipulators. I will so vote no.

Alan Goldsmith

Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 11:24 a.m.

&quot;Ann Arbor residents already pay 2 mills and Ypsilanti residents pay 1 mill, and those millages are expected to be transferred to the new countywide authority.&quot; No transfer of Ann Arbor tax dollars without a vote of the public! Why wasn't this issue mentioned in the article? And maybe we can talk about Michael Ford's generous private vehicle allowance while we're at it.


Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 1:26 p.m.

What??!! Mr. Ford doesn't use the AATA to get around?