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Posted on Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 3:18 p.m.

AATA receives $2.1M federal grant for more hybrid buses in Ann Arbor, Levin announces

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority will receive another $2.1 million federal grant to help offset the costs of new hybrid-electric buses, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., announced today.

The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Clean Fuels Program, which is designed to help local communities adopt clean energy technologies to improve energy efficiency and improve air quality, according to Levin's office.


Carl Levin

"Michigan knows better than most states the value of promoting emerging clean energy technologies not just for the environment, but to create jobs," Levin said in a statement. "Helping local communities adopt these technologies makes them more affordable and available and it helps us protect clean air."

AATA, which is building up momentum for a countywide expansion of transit services, has had many successes recently in securing federal grants for various initiatives.

U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, announced in late September that $2.7 million in federal grants for AATA had been secured, including $1 million to demolish and rebuild the Blake Transit Center and $1.7 million to add 10 more hybrid buses to the agency's fleet.

Levin and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., also announced in mid-October that AATA had been awarded two separate federal grants totaling $3.8 million.

About $2.6 million of that was to help fund the Reimagine Washtenaw project, designed to increase transit service frequency on Washtenaw Avenue, while $1.2 million was to help fund the Ann Arbor Connector project to study advanced transit options in the city, including a monorail.

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.



Thu, Feb 16, 2012 : 5:17 p.m.

I guess AATA does not have a Viable Business model without Federal Funding!

Pixie Belle

Sat, Nov 19, 2011 : 9:06 a.m.

My goodness where has the countywide transit plan gone. These great new buses will be paid for but the transportation costs for the poor in Ypsilanti will not... hmm Where are his priorities? What should be done is the expansion or maintenance of existing services. The bus system in Ypsilanti 100% effects the Ann Arbor economy. Where do you think all the restaurant, retail, and service workers the city relies on live. They can't afford to live in Ann Arbor nor can they afford to commute by car on their small wages.

Arno B

Sat, Nov 19, 2011 : 12:44 a.m.

As Ayn Rand once commented: "...At whose expense?...". These are and were the three most never used words. Why can't the Washington geniuses give all of us new cars? We would all be grateful. The source of the money would be the same. Many more votes would also be bought. When these grandiose programs run short of money, who will be obligated to come up with the rest? (Look in the mirror). There is much to-do about a new train station - often justified by room for more tracks. Remenber that in the 70's and 80's there were two tracks on the Amtrak behind the Gandy Dancer. There is still room for them now if needed. Imagine the cost of going over Fuller Road with an elevated line! The peanuts that Levin, Dingell, and Stabenow have stolen from all of the others in the Washington trough will hardly be a drop in the bucket to finance efforts of this sort.. Well if all of these grandiose spending programs produce glamorous results, there at least will be many more places to put more Art! For this we should be more grateful!


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 5:38 p.m.

And the air smells like popcorn! Great job, Dems! We know who cares about the middle and lower class and the environment.

The Picker

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

Just another example of why the tax and spend politicians must go. All of them !


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

Cudos to AATA, leading us into the future as usual! Too bad the rest of the state is so determined to stay in the past... The feds are willing to give us back all of our gas tax money, as long as we use the money for a balanced transportation system. Why do we choose to be a donor state?

The Picker

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

Because we allow this tax system to continue. Thats why! Power to the people


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 12:38 p.m.

The country is 15 trillion dollars in debt. The feds currently spend 1.5 trillion more than it takes in, and yet they find several million dollars to fund buses in Ann Arbor. If Ann Arbor was desperate for new buses why didn't the AATA use its own resources to buy them? Why should the good citizens of Klawock Alaska, or any other community, be forced through federal taxation to pay for our buses? Why should the people of Michigan pay taxes to the federal government, let them take their cut, and decide what infrastructure should be funded, and pay for only a portion of it? Lets keep our money and fund our own needs with local money.


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 4:37 a.m.

I presume all the negative posters here don't ride busses, unlike the thousands of Wastenaw County residents who depend on them daily for transportation. Replacing old inefficient busses with busses that are more economical to operate and are also cleaner on the environment is a great thing. Thanks to Michigans Senators and the Obama Administration!


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

It's really sad, the knee jerk reaction of extreme cynicism everyone has to announcements like this. Couple of important things to realize: Levin did not go personal decide that the us government would spend this portion of money. Ray LaHood recently announced $112 million in funding would be available for grants under this clean fuels program. All Levin did was apply for and secure a portion of that for an immediately justifiable and reasonable use - clean running hybrid busses that use far less fuel! Should we have let other cities around this country take all the money, because you know they will. Would it be a good idea to stand proud and say, "no, we love our soot belching old worn out buses that throw carcinogens directly into your faces as they go driving by you, no money, please" ?? This is good news. Hybrid busses are a good idea. They are built in the USA! You know, with real JOBS for Americans that we all claim to want?


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 12:32 p.m.

If the Senator wanted to control spending and balance the budget, he could have said no to the funds. All are culpable. Sorry Hut Hut. The amount of pollution reduced by a couple of buses is miniscule. Change the entire fleet, you might have something to talk about. How about talking about a balanced budget and no wasteful spending? Now that's something to talk about.

hut hut

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 3:11 a.m.

@Mike, if you change your mind, your grandchildren will thank for reducing pollution that causes cancer for untold millions and future generations and costs a lot more to treat than a hybrid bus will ever cost. If you change your mind, I'm sure that the American worker who makes these busses will thank you for being abler to pay the rent and by food for his family. I knew you'd see it my way. thanks.


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

We're broke. Nice try on the emotional appeal of soot blowing in my face though. Do you make all of your spending decisions on emotion. Let's say you had a huge credit card debt and all of these wonderful charities were soliciting you. Would you just add more onto your credit card, epecially if you could dump the debt on your kid, or would you make better fiscal decisions? Why do I need to explain this to an adult human being?


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 11:33 p.m.

Thank you Thank you Thank you great leaders in Washington. Why in the heck did the tax payers send the money to Washington in first place only to see it come back to Ann Arbor? Great now Ann Arbor can spend more money on art because uncle sam provided $$$ for buses.

average joe

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 10:37 p.m.

Just what is the "reimagine washtenaw project"? To increase transit service frequency? Does that mean what I think it means, to have more buses running down washtenaw so the riders won't have to wait as long? or is it a fancy way of saying 'increasing ridership along washtenaw'. And 1.2 million for another study.......

David Cahill

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

This grant is for a good cause: cutting pollution.


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

Hut Hut: You want to pay more in taxes to cover the budget deficit, go right ahead, open up your checkbook. I want to see wasteful spending go away. These buses may look like a good thing but until the wasteful spending stops and we have a balanced budget, this is wasteful. But you go right ahead and pay for them if you want.

hut hut

Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 3:13 a.m.

If you change your mind, Mike, your grandchildren will thank you for reducing pollution and creating American jobs.


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 2:54 a.m.

Lots of things could be called agood cause but when you're broke there are essentials and then there a good causes. You spend money on good causes when you have it. I find it weird that I actually have to explain this.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 9:40 p.m.

This is how the federal govt can't seem to get the big picture that we are spending too much. When it comes to saving money they look at $100 million programs to cancel without consideration that 100 $1 million programs will do the same thing. Keep spending our tax dollars Mr. Senator on items for which we really are not in desperate need. We need to go broke faster.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 11:32 p.m.

Uh, no. Levin only secured a portion of federal funding that was already approved. Google the clean fuels program and read up if you want. Ray LaHood announced $112 million in funding would be available.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

Oh, Thank you Senator Levin for paying for the hybrid buses with our tax dollars. The old buses weren't expensive enough so we needed new ones. It makes me personally feel good to add this money to our national debt so I can stick this on my children and grand children. They may have to learn to speak chinese to communicate with our lien holders but I'm sure Levin will introduce a bill to require that in school.......................


Fri, Nov 18, 2011 : 5:45 a.m.

The money was already allocated for this type of project. Levin brought the money to Michigan. The AATA gets a grant for more efficient vehicles. It will both improve service and save money. Burn him at the stake! Your grandchildren will be more concerned with energy, climate change and pollution than the 16% of our debt China has invested in. They buy it because it is a good investment, not because they want to take over our schools.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

In this morning's New York Times, I read that Obama has pulled the plug on an EPA plan to reduce ozone emissions. Now, we learn that federal money will be thrown into hybrid engines. The tunnel vision of political fashions leads to ludicrous priorities. Smog kills people now, carbon dioxide does not. Indeed, if the electricity to charge the batteries comes from coal (as most of it does) the net effect of hybrids is to increase carbon emissions.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 11:43 p.m.

They save 30% in fuel use without any impact on our coal powerplants. 30% reduction in AATA's fuel use amounts to many thousands of gallons! This is a good idea.


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 11:42 p.m.

Please learn about the technology you reference before arbitrarily bashing it. The batteries in hybrid buses are charged when the bus slows down. The generator acts as a brake for the bus, further saving on brake maintenance costs. These are not "plug-in" hybrids. If they were to drive any meaningful distance on pure electrical energy with a load of passengers, the battery pack would be ridiculously large. Instead these batteries act more like a rubber band. Capture energy on deceleration, then use it up pretty quick getting the bus back up to speed. Furthermore this grant program has absolutely nothing to do with Obama's control over the EPA, so your comment of "tunnel vision" is pretty meaningless.