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Posted on Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

AATA's countywide transit plan might have hard time getting past Washtenaw County commissioners

By Ryan J. Stanton


This map was presented Thursday night showing the potential makeup of a proposed 15-member countywide transit authority board. Some county commissioners fear it unfairly favors the city of Ann Arbor.

A $465 million plan to expand transit services countywide eventually will have to get past the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners to move forward.

And if discussions that took place Thursday night during a special county board working session are any indication, that might be a tough hurdle to clear.

Michael Benham, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's special assistant for strategic planning, and Terri Blackmore, executive director of the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, appeared before commissioners to give an update on AATA's transit master planning process.

AATA's governing board last month voted to move forward with the most comprehensive and most expensive of three long-range transit scenarios the agency had been considering.

Now the agency is working on implementing the $465 million “Smart Growth” scenario as part of its 30-year plan, which likely will require going to voters next year with a countywide millage request and a complete reorganization of the AATA as a new countywide transit authority.

Throughout a heated discussion Thursday night, Benham and Blackmore were cross-examined by commissioners. Six of the 11 were in attendance.


Wesley Prater

"I don't like what I see here," said Commissioner Wesley Prater, D-York Township, expressing concerns about the direction the AATA is headed. He said it seems as if the agency already has made up its mind without consulting the county board.

"I'm really kind of flabbergasted by all of this," Prater said. "I'm quite surprised that this has gone this far without the county board's knowledge, quite frankly."

Blackmore said she has discussed the issue with some commissioners individually.

Aside from whether the Smart Growth plan is right for Washtenaw County or whether residents can afford it, Prater and other commissioners had concerns about who would serve on the governing board of the proposed countywide transit authority.

A map presented at Thursday's meeting showed Ann Arbor would have seven seats on a 15-member board, Ypsilanti would have one, and seven other seats would be reserved to represent geographic blocks of outlying areas of the county based on population.

Blackmore said because Ann Arbor already has a 2-mill tax that funds AATA, which likely wouldn't go away, it would have greater representation on the board. But commissioners expressed concerns that the plan is too heavily weighted toward Ann Arbor.

The county board would be asked to ratify the appointment of board members for the countywide transit authority before the plan could move forward.

"I wouldn't be comfortable supporting something where you're doing apples and oranges figuring out how Ann Arbor gets their seats versus the way everybody else gets their seats," said Commissioner Kristin Judge, D-Pittsfield Township. "That's something that wouldn't fly with me, and we do need to vote at this board table before any of this can happen."

Blackmore said so far she's not heard any opposition to the proposed governance model from any of the communities. But that didn't reassure Judge.

"It has to come through us," Judge told Blackmore. "So I'm thrilled that they don't have a problem with it at this point. That's great. But if we do, then nothing moves forward."

Commissioner Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor and chairman of the working session, attempted to defuse tense moments. He reminded commissioners what's before them is merely a draft proposal, and the final plan has yet to be worked out.

Commissioner Ronnie Peterson, D-Ypsilanti, was highly complimentary of the plan, calling it "progressive" and a "miracle" that it came together the way it has. Still, he agreed with the other commissioners' concerns and said those should be addressed.


Ronnie Peterson

Peterson said he's been a strong proponent of a regional transit system for many years, and had hoped in more prosperous economic times that the idea would take root. At this time, he's unsure about raising taxes.

"I'm not favorable to that because I think we're still in a recovery mode," he said. "I think it'll be a while before we're ready to ask voters for a tax increase, because I don't think they want to hear that. I think they want to hear about us doing more with the dollars they already sent us."

Prater said the way he sees it, Ann Arbor is trying to get out of the responsibility of running a transit authority and "they're trying to put it on the county, and we're going to go through all kinds of contortions here." He said until he sees a clear demonstration of buy-in from the local communities, he's not ready to support the plan.

Prater added he thought the AATA was relying too heavily on data provided by the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments. He said SEMCOG's data often is inaccurate and unreliable.

Benham said in his report that 36,100 senior citizens live in Washtenaw County, a figure expected to balloon to 86,400 by 2035, according to SEMCOG projections.

According to the National Institute on Aging, more than 600,000 American seniors stop driving every year. It's also estimated 10 more Michiganders turn 65 every hour.

Citing those figures, the AATA has opted to move forward with the Smart Growth scenario, saying that nearly 94 percent of the county's senior population would be within a 10-minute walk of fixed-route transit service by 2040 if the plan were implemented.

"We've got an aging population," Benham said. "The population of elderly is going to more than double over the next 20 years. So you combine that with the special travel needs of this group and that's something that we really need to respond to."

Pointing to Chicago as an example, Benham said having good public transit also helps attract and retain young people.

Benham presented a slide that showed Ann Arbor lags behind Portland, Austin, Tucson and Madison in investing in transit on a per-capita basis. Ann Arbor's existing transit funding per capita also trails Lansing, but is ahead of Nashville, the slide showed.

Judge said she doesn't think Ann Arbor is ever going to be like Chicago, and it's not comparable to any of the other cities on the list, so the county shouldn't be planning to be something it's not. She also expressed hesitations about the economics of the plan.

"Yes, we can improve our transit. Yes, we can help our economy by having more transit here," she said. "But if we shoot for something that's too high, and we can't deliver it, and it's too much of a financial burden on our residents, I think we're all going to be losing out."


Kristin Judge

Judge was curious about potential funding from the University of Michigan. She said the university needs to be at the table as a funder and as a partner. Benham said U-M definitely has been at the table in discussions, but he couldn't say anything about funding.

Benham reminded commissioners that nothing can happen without popular support, and the plan is to put forward a proposal that residents want and are willing to fund.

Included in the Smart Growth plan are investments in high-capacity transit corridors, which AATA officials say will help guide land use development, grow jobs, preserve green space and stem traffic congestion. According to the agency, implementing the plan will pump $275 million into the local economy and create 1,870 jobs over the next 30 years, while the area will benefit from cleaner air due to more than 700 tons of reduced vehicle emissions.

AATA officials have also said the plan would reduce the number of trips taken during peak hours on Washtenaw County roads and highways by 5.5 million per year.

What still hasn't been determined is how to pay for the plan. Implementing it is estimated to require $465 million in capital costs over 30 years, and net operating expenses are estimated at $52 million annually. Not included is the current $27 million in base operating expenses.

The bulk of the $465 million would go toward enhanced urban bus service, airport shuttle service and commuter rail.

AATA is funded by a combination of federal, state and local tax dollars, as well as purchase-of-service agreements with outlying communities and passenger fares.

Historically, Benham said, the federal government has covered 45 percent of transit capital costs, with another 13 percent coming from the state, 16 percent from local sources and 26 percent directly from passenger fares. But more than a third of operational funding comes from local taxes.

AATA CEO Michael Ford is expected to come back to the county board during another working session in June to share a complete funding and implementation analysis.

After more than 30 years in business, AATA's fixed-route bus services provide more than 6 million rides a year. The fact that U-M provides funds for faculty, staff and students to ride has helped increase ridership by more than 40 percent, according to figures provided Thursday.


A look at some of the components of the Smart Growth scenario as proposed by the AATA. Click here to download a larger PDF version.

Courtesy of AATA

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 e-mail newsletters.



Tue, Apr 12, 2011 : 6:02 p.m.

Unless Mr. Stanton chose not to report it, it is most interesting to note that none of the Commissioners asked a single question concerning the actual presentation, i.e. the PROPOSED governance model for a PROPOSED County-wide transit system. For instance, did any Commissioner ask - or care - about why Ann Arbor seems to be over represented? If that question had been asked, the answer may have been enlightening. Ann Arbor residents have already voted to tax themselves at over a 2 mill levy for AATA. Financing a county-wide plan with another extra-voted millage would be an ADDITIONAL levy for Ann Arbor residents. I believe it reasonable that Ann Arbor residents should pay more because, as has been pointed out, Ann Arbor will receive greater benefit than other municipalities. Therefore, is it not also reasonable that Ann Arbor residents have greater representation on the governing body? I think so and, it should also be noted, that Ann Arbor's proposed representation is still less than a majority of the total voting members. I find it most troubling that our County Commissioners seemed to be more concerned about "when" they were informed than they were concerned about the content of the presentation.

Joe Hood

Sun, Apr 10, 2011 : 2:58 a.m.

Instead of spending money on fuel for buses, let's create spaces for electric cars and charging stations (yes, free parking for electric cars (100% electric cars)). One of the points of this transit plan is to use less icky carbon resources. Let the early adopters fill in the last part of driving an electric car/neighborhood electric vehicle to work every day.

Basic Bob

Sun, Apr 10, 2011 : 5:08 a.m.

Electricity is primarily generated from icky carbon, too.

Jay Thomas

Sun, Apr 10, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.

Every new bus route or train track funded only makes it easier for people to live outside of the city (where housing costs less) while still being employed here. If you own any property in Ann Arbor, this isn't helping you. It puts downward pressure on real estate.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 11:32 p.m.

Many, if not most, of those retiring in the coming years, will leave for more temperate climes with lower costs of living. They've been doing so for decades, and I see no reason why they won't continue to do so. I doubt that the Rosy Scenario predictions for growth in the population of seniors takes this into account. The county is more likely to lose population than gain population over the next 20 years, so all we will be doing is spending half a billion dollars to have empty buses driving all over the county, instead of just around Ann Arbor. Unless they counterfeit it, the money for all this is never going to materialize, in any case.


Sat, Apr 9, 2011 : 10:08 p.m.

So buy a Prius, or similar, instead. They really are quite thrifty. With 1/2 billion dollars, you could probably buy a new hybrid of some sort for every single person moving to Washtenaw county for the next 20 years, and have money left over to fix the roads. I say again... Michigan is DE-populating, and even prissy Washtenaw county is stagnant at best. We have better things to spend money on than empty busses servicing non-existant riders.

Basic Bob

Sat, Apr 9, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

However, some people will move here, and others will grow up and start families. We will be happy that all the old geezers are in Florida for the winter, and wish they would stay all year. The people who stay might need the bus when we can't afford dino fuel for our big SUVs.

Bob Martel

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 9:22 p.m.

As I look at the map included with the article, I am having a hard time seeing how $465,000,000 needs to be spent to set up a bunch of bus routes between our villages and the City. What am I missing?

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Apr 9, 2011 : 9:45 p.m.

Bob, reread the line - it includes "and commuter rail". The rail plans consume most of the capital costs and much of the operating cost.

Dog Guy

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 10:34 p.m.

Administrative costs.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

How many stops would there be in Chelsea, Manchester, Saline? How many of those stops would be within walking distance of the alledged senior riders?


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.

Having lived in some real urban centers - New York and Boston - that require public transportation, I can tell you that Ann Arbor just doesn't compare in terms of 'need' for this type of system. Nor can it invest in the type of public transporation that really makes a difference in terms of hauling large number of people, namely, light rail lines (above or below ground). The idea of extending bus lines into neighboring communities is worth a shot to gauge the need for this and to see if ridership is high enough to help pay for it (but it won't fully support it, millages and tax subsidies will be necessary). If ridership doesn't materialize even for that, then there's obviously no need and no point to pursue this further.

Kristin Judge

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

@lifelongA2 - Only a few communities have had a chance to give their opinion on the make-up of the future board. If Ann Arbor is getting unfair representation on the new board, others will share my concerns. There is a more in-depth reply attached to your comment.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 6:53 p.m.

There were an extremely large number of public hearings for everyone to attend to voice concerns and ideas with the group that has been working hard to begin a conceptual plan for what transit might look like over the next 20-30 years. I had the opportunity to attend two public hearings and three other meetings where lots of discussion and input was provided. One of the issues I raised was the need to look at the traffic patterns currently on the eastern side of the county specifically in the Milan, Augusta, York and Ypsilanti Township southern routes to the urban centers such as the Cities of Ypsilanti, Saline and Ann Arbor. I also pointed out the large growth the has taken place in the southern section of the county and once we get out of this depression we are in, this growth will surely continue and therefore there is a need to have better circulation and connection of people to the urban cores from this section. I suggested that we look at using Willis Road as a connector route to Saline and Ann Arbor and also Whittaker Rd. back to the Township and City of Ypsilanti urban cores. Let's face it with gas prices consistently peaking every year now, the times of lower gas prices are becoming smaller and clearly less frequent, we are all going to be begging for public transit that can get us where we need to go at an affordable rate. Let alone if the projections for growth are only 50% correct we will be spending more than what is projected for even the 30 year plan on just a few expanded highways, like US 23 and I 94. One of the most enlightening facts that was shared at planning meetings was a comment my a representative from the largest private employer in the county that his firm uses the availablity of public transportation as a deciding factor on where to locate business. I think the concept, and remember that is all it is, is a good start to beginning to formalize a vision for public transist that will take us into our future.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 11:56 p.m.

Who is the largest private employer in Washtenaw County?


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

Speaking of AATA, I was driving west on I-94 yesterday at about 6:15PM and came upon the "A2 Express" bus going in the same direction. It was empty except for the driver of course. Please stop wasting our money with "feel good" programs.

Mitch Ganian

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

Packman, that's funny I was driving east with a van full of commuters at that same time and saw you alone in your car. Quit fouling our air with your gas hog.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

If the County doesn't want to ante up, so be it. Why should AA provide buses to suburban riders who contribute to urban sprawl. People who live outside of Ann Arbor as a general rule enjoy their lower taxes. Let them enjoy their lack of city services.

rusty shackelford

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 6:10 p.m.

This whole project seems to be based on helping some mythical grandmother who lives "5 miles outside Manchester" and has given up her car yet needs to get to Ypsilanti on a regular basis for unknown reasons. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Focus on better service in Ann Arbor-Pittsfield-Ypsi where people will actually use it. Get some buses after 9pm! You know how many service workers get off after midnight in A2 then head home to Ypsi?

Joe Hood

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 5:47 p.m.

This plan is crazy, there is no density outside of Ann Arbor and people live outside of Ann Arbor for that reason. The way this whole process has worked is a little silly. Yes they advertized the process but that process was flawed. If you're not for the plan, you're very likely not to take time out of your schedule to argue against it. If anyone has read of the majority of comments in the several AATA stories, they would have a decent expectation this plan was doomed. (perhaps they should have stacked the commenters in their favor). As far as funding, or lack thereof, I believe there is something in the charter that says if there is a countywide tax for transportation the Ann Arbor city tax goes away. The one supposed constant of funding in this house of cards doesn't exist.


Sat, Apr 9, 2011 : 5:06 a.m.

Well Joe I totally agree with you and many others. It is my understanding that the millage we currently pay to AATA and the new millage that Ypsi is going to pay, will continue even if this red haring passes. A2 residents and Ypsi residents will pay 2 millage's to AATA if this passes. AATA has spent an obscene amount of money on advisers and consultants over the past 2 years, still there is no concrete plans in place as to what this offers. The AATA has it hooks deep inside the U-M and expects U-M to pay for everything that they want to do. What folks who think that U-M should pay and pay, don't realize is that when U-M pays, it's the Tax payers that pay and pay some more. U-M has it's own bus system, let the U pick up their employees and take them to work!

David Cahill

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 5:42 p.m.

I was out over the noon hour and saw an AATA bus with a sign running its whole length saying "It's your countywide transportation plan" or words to that effect. So the AATA is already using public funds to propagandize for a plan that is not anywhere near in effect.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

"I'm really kind of flabbergasted by all of this," Prater said. "I'm quite surprised that this has gone this far without the county board's knowledge, quite frankly." This statement proves one of two things: a) Wesley Prater is a liar; or b) the entire board of commissioners is out of touch and pays no attention to what's going on in our communities. This AATA proposal and process were VERY public. Much input was sought. For Mr. Prater to act like he and his colleagues knew nothing about it??? Please, Mr. Prater, don't insult us. The AATA has come up with a well thought out, well-researched, much-discussed plan. It's a plan that looks to the future, where people live and work, and perhaps most importantly, the fact that in 20-30 years the age breakdown of our population will be very different than it is. Is the plan ambitious? OF COURSE it is. It should be! Now they go to the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners for a "working session"... and all we get is Wesley Prater and Kristin Judge saying "WAH WAH WAH.... You didn't come to me first!!!....You're not got do anything without us....blah blah blah..." The only commissioner that said ANYTHING worthwhile that was not about power-hungry political posturing was Mr. Peterson. Some "work session." Prater and Judge don't give a rat's rear-end about anything but their little petty power games. Most people wonder why months....years...... decades go by and there is no progress on anything anywhere. The answer is simple: negative naysayer power-greedy politicians like Prater and Judge, who stand in the way of progress simply because nobody asked THEM or it wasn't THEIR idea.

Kristin Judge

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:10 p.m.

If you take the time to watch the meeting, it will be clear that I am not opposed to the transit planning process or improving transit in Washtenaw County. My only concerns voiced last night were that we plan for something we actually need and will use and that the representation on the new, proposed board be fair to all the communities who will be asking residents for new tax dollars.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 4:54 p.m.

I view myself as an Independent Conservative. Although the cost is high, I agree that we should consider mass transit. I used to ride the bus in Ann Arbor, and I liked the fact that they offered unlimited monthly passes. I could go to the mall, go out to dinner, enjoy a night on the down, visit the downtown without having to fight for a parking space. It was a really nice benefit of living in the city. However, the design of the proposed system needs to be modified to benefit the most people. I would gladly take the public bus if it were convenient and cost effective. There needs to be a balance between being cost effective and being the most efficient for the people.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 4:12 p.m.

This plan has a major flaw. When the elderly move to Florida/Arizona or pass away, and we no longer have a large tax base, how will we make up the gap to pay for operating and maintenance costs? Better question, because mass transit is heavily subsidized from local taxes today, how does AATA plan to pay for maintenance and operating costs for choo-choo trains and light rail? I am tired of hearing the empty promises that jobs come from mass transit. It is horse manure. This seems nothing more than ideology driven and paybacks for up front construction jobs. I happy with my car and $4/gallon gas thank you very much. We already a have a bus system for those that need it. Stop this social engineering and attempting to force lifestyle changes with smaller parking lot spaces and changing transportation habits. If the masses of people want it, they will demand it from their constituents. Another major flaw. There is not enough money in the system to pay for existing infrastructure (roads, sanitary sewers, and clean drinking water. By the way, the latter two are unfunded mandates from the EPA). So it makes sense to build a completely new and unneeded infrastructure system, and divide the revenue pie up into smaller pieces while they are all old and falling apart? How does this improve my quality of life?


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 3:16 p.m.

Just another in a long list of reasons why we need to look at what Oakland and Macomb Counties have done and go to a strong County Executive government ....where the entire region is considered. This pitting one side of the county against the other, city against suburbs, etc..... is ripping the county apart and hurting all involved.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 5:07 p.m.

Agreed on both replies.

Basic Bob

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 4:29 p.m.

That doesn't sound very democratic. The voters have decided strongly in favor of dysfunctional local government.

charles mancherian

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

NO NEW CITY TAXES! Pfizer's gone, Border's in Bankruptcy and possible leaving Ann Arbor, and housing prices are still falling here. We City of Ann Arbor taxpayers pay enough taxes without any additional burden. Stop this plan.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

Ann Arbor City has 33 percent of the County's population, the proposal awards Ann Arbor 47% of the proposed governing board's representatives.

Peter Eckstein

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

They have yet to explain to us how spending half a billion dollars will reduce fuel consumption by, for example, running huge empty buses many times a day between Ann Arbor and Manchester.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

Of course there are kinks to be worked out, as with any plan, but a countywide transit plan is necessary. Rather than balking at any attempt to improve our quality of life, let's work together on the details so that we can make it work.

Basic Bob

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 2:10 p.m.

What I don't get: they want to expand service to these tiny remote villages (Whitmore Lake, Manchester), but don't extend any service into the second and third most populous municipalities in the county, Ypsilanti and Pittsfield townships. And how about some more connector routes that take you someplace besides downtown Ann Arbor?

David Cahill

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

I'm glad our county commissioners are being skeptical about this unnecessary and overpriced plan.

Dog Guy

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:49 p.m.

AATA claims to spend about $30 million annually to earn about $5 million. I suspect actual spending is much higher. The claim is that every dollar spent returns four dollars to the community (per American Public Transit Association, a most richly biased source). My AATA tax bills are outrageous. I have not seen any of those four dollars. Presumably the four dollar return comes from the pockets of those few people who ride the busses and also pay their own outrageous AATA tax bills. Jesse Bernstein has discovered a perpetual motion money machine. Washtenaw County cannot afford not to spend $566 million to get in on this get-rich-quick scheme.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

1) The transit plan is a proposal. A proposal is a starting point for a discussion. Discuss. Refine. Revise. Why such negativity early in the game? 2) If a party does not like a data source, they might suggest a viable alternative. Why the blanketing mud sling at SEMCOG? My experience with SEMCOG data has been positive, and they are credible. How would someone measure accuracy, unless they had another data source? What is the data source that contradicts SEMCOG? 3) It makes sense that individual communities would be contacted for input before the larger proposal was authored and presented. 4) The U of M is the county's largest employer. It makes sense that a transit plan would feed the largest employment center from the surrounding communities. 5) Board composition is open for discussion. Why not discuss board composition? 6) Bus transit is viable now. Ridership has great potential to increase in parallel with higher gas prices. Also, parking permits are $135 per month in DDA garages. Few garages have permits available, with many wait listed. Thanks to those, including Ms Blackmore and AATA, that have worked diligently to move forward. Mass transit is a worthy endeavor!


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

a2grateful 1. Because the proposal is so far removed from reality. It's not even within shouting range. 2. Good question. Right now, SEMCOG has the only set of data we can go on. Many see the results as self-serving, however. One way to get another data point would be to put this to a vote. You'll have another set in a hurry, and quite accurate. 3. Yup. 4. Yup. 5. Good luck with the turf war. 6. You call a 84% subsidy viable?


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

Six of 11 commissioners attended the meeting? Kind of gives you an idea of how seriously the county takes this project. Either that or how seriously half the commissioners take their jobs. Either way, disappointing. Also disappointing: Giving AA seven votes, while everyone else gets 1. Just plain ridiculous! Regional mass transit is a good idea in so many ways, and while it has improved here over the decades, there's plenty of room for expansion and improvement. It would be nice if the commissioners would actually pay attention and do their jobs, so that plans could be presented, approved, and--imagine!--implemented.

Lifelong A2

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

Although this plan has significant problems (namely the fact that township voters will never approve the millage), Commissioner Judge's comments are disturbing. She said, "It has to come through us. So I'm thrilled that they don't have a problem with it at this point. That's great. But if we do, then nothing moves forward." She sounds like a typical power-hungry politician: she's not interested in what others think, just as long as she's appeased. I urge Commissioner Judge to stop playing politics -- something she loves to do -- and start offering constructive solutions. Commissioner Peterson's comments are much more appropriate: he recognized the value in a countywide transit system, but noted that some challenges must be overcome.

Kristin Judge

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

The county wide transit master plan process has been exceptional, and it has been a pleasure to be a part of the Leadership Team while the public process was accomplished. My concern last night is the new part that was just presented to commissioners for the first time. That is the proposed make up of the new authority board. Ann Arbor gets 7 seats based on one criteria and other communities share 1 seat each (approximately) based on a completely different criteria. Representing the residents of Pittsfield Township, I would not be able to support a board make-up that is not fair for all residents who are going to be asked to pay for the program. Taxpayers have made it very clear that they want value for their money. A transit plan that is fair and meets the needs of residents will have no problem getting support from the County Board. It is our responsibility to ensure the taxpayers are protected and fairly represented. If anyone wants to speak to me personally about this, please feel free to contact me at There was much more discussed than the few lines in this article.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

Why should anyone who lives in the townships vote for this plan? We get no benifit and have to pay the taxes to support the plan. This shounld have been an AA/Ypsi plan and grow it from there as demand required. And by the way the biggest employer in AA, U of M does not hav to pay a cent towards this plan. They are tax exempt.

Joel Batterman

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

Those who don't give a second thought to $4-plus gas can say what they want, but for the majority of people who do, improved transit offers certain benefits. That said, UM does need to step up more than it has in the past.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 5:06 p.m.

Where it is $4 or more a gallon is in the European nations who had to turn to mass transit because it is too expensive to use a car for local travel. I hate to say it, but we need mass transit because I don't see gas going down anytime soon in this Obama nation of ours. After he is gone? I hope to see gas prices go down but not now. So, at any rate, I am glad to see mass transit in this country because Wayne country certainly has something going for it. Good luck people paying for $3.69 a gallon of milk and gas. Yes, milk was that today in Wal Mart. Scary huh?


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

You might update your understanding. UM compensates AATA for each UM rider based on a cost-per-ride formula that AATA determined. As part of this formula, AATA receives all federal funding generated by UM bus system ridership. Check with AATA, they are quite satisfied with this agreement. So if this proposal increased ridership by UM staff or students, it is logical to assume that the cost to the UM (and the benefit to AATA) would increase as well.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:10 p.m.

It is riduculs to htink a senior who has given up their drivers lisence will be physicall able to walk to a bus stop. Do the people who write these government reports actually believe the things they write? Or is this a Field of Dreams moment? The AA news should dig into the finances and current ridership of AATA and let the taxpayers know the facts now instead of right before the vote.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

Joe You are living in what world? The seniors I know that live out of Ann Arbor will have a relative or friend take them to appointments or they won't go. They certainly will not be taking a bus!


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 2:24 p.m.

I think it's more "riduculs" to think that a senior without a driver's license can still drive their car. Mass transit is the only viable option for any population, but especially for senior citizens.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

Lets face it. This is a bad plan for everybody except possibly AA and Ypsi. To go from Milan to Ypsilanti, a 15 minute trip requires you to go to Saline, AA then Ypsi. It is about 12 miles to Ypsi from Milan and is 10 miles to Saline from Milan. Tthe only purpose of this idea is for the rest of the county to pay for AA's mass transit fantisy. What is the current ridership of the progressives from AA? Or is this a do as I say not as I do moment?


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 6:06 p.m.

Ridership is at record levels and as those who live in the suburbs realize their job is in A2 and paying for gas and parking is crazy, they might grow a set and take mass transit. Good cites do. Austin, Portland, Madison, Lansing, Columbus are all examples of cites that do well with it. The selfish ones are those that want roads built with TAXPAYER DOLLARS over mass transit.

Blue Eyes

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

JSA hit the nail on the head. As usual, Ann Arbor thinks they're special and the rest of the County should fall into line and do what they want....and pay for it as well.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 12:20 p.m.

It is fairly obvious that once again Ann Arbor's politicians and bureaucrats are trying to shaft the rest of the county. Completely predictable and unacceptable. Lousy neighbors at best. I will never support this rip off.

Top Cat

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.

The Commissioners must know that if they approve this scheme to further pick our pockets that they will be held accountable. They also know that any millage to fund it would not have a prayer. Best to mercifully drive a stake through this now and move on to solutions that are doable, affordable and provide real benefit to taxpayers.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 12:15 p.m.

Please, please, please hurry up and bring this to a vote. The sooner we put this ridiculous stunt behind us, the sooner we can stop wasting money going down a dead end.

Jim Mulchay

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : noon

Looking at the map provided, I would think that the regional transportation "wishes" for Chelsea would likely be different than those for Manchester (both in the "west" bracket; and those of Milan different than those of Saline (both in "south middle") - that's just a first impression and ignores that someone would have to pay for all this.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 11:41 a.m.

There are many who oppose this incredible waste of time and money...


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

DBlaine Don't think so ? Put it to a vote! Or list the supporters!


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 3:10 p.m.

Please list the "many." All I see are the usual complainers on this blog.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 11:37 a.m.

Kristin Judge really understands the 20th century....


Sat, Apr 9, 2011 : 11:42 p.m.

This proposal is none of the above Ms. Judge.

Kristin Judge

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 8:45 p.m.

County wide transportation is a good idea if it is affordable, needed and all communities are fairly represented.

average joe

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 11:02 a.m.

"Benham presented a slide that showed Ann Arbor lags behind Portland, Austin, Tucson and Madison in investing in transit on a per-capita basis." So the "keeping up with the Jones' " mentality is one of the reasons to approve this endeavor? Isn't this one of the reasons that the economy is the way it is... Who knows- perhaps the above cities are using Ann Arbor as an example to spend less on their public transportation...

Jimmy McNulty

Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 11:01 a.m.

"Blackmore said so far she's not heard any opposition to the proposed governance model from any of the communities." I object to this, now she's heard opposition.


Fri, Apr 8, 2011 : 3:04 p.m.

So you're a community? and you think posting here means she's hear it?