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Posted on Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

AATA says Ann Arbor's new Blake Transit Center will be larger, more accessible

By Danny Shaw


A rendering of the new Blake Transit Center as shown during a public forum at the center on Wednesday afternoon.

Melanie Maxwell |

Downtown Ann Arbor's new Blake Transit Center will be a bit bigger than previously reported, officials said at Wednesday’s public feedback session for the project.

In September, Ann Arbor Transportation Authority officials said the center’s size would be expanding from 2,000 to 6,000 square feet and would cost $5.5 million.

Terry Black, manager of maintenance and BTC project manager, hosted the display and said the new plans put it closer to 7,500 square feet.

Black said up-to-date budget figures for the project are not available. When it was first proposed, it was estimated at $3.7 million, which was raised to $4 million in 2010, then to $5.5 million in 2011.

“This has been a moving target for the last year,” he said. “The final figures are unavailable, but we will have them in the next two months. We are finalizing the design, then doing the real cost-analysis.”

AATA officials also said in September the agency has received a total of $4.2 million in state and federal grants to support the 8- to 10-month project, which starts this spring.

Along with more room for the center's 5,000 daily commuters to wait indoors, the restroom sizes will be larger, the bus docking area will be more accessible to drivers and a new walkway will link South Fourth and South Fifth Avenues.


Washtenaw Community College students Meg Smith and Micheal Suthers look at a floor plan showing the new Blake Transit Center during a public forum at the center on Wednesday.

Melanie Maxwell |

“We’ve outgrown it,” Black said to a bus commuter about the current building. “It doesn’t meet our needs anymore or yours.”

The center will have many new additions for bus commuters: Kiosks featuring real-time arrivals and departures, touch-screen information centers, a larger indoor lobby area, USB dock charging stations and even an outdoor snack and drink booth.

Surveys were available for the public to fill out during the open house. They gave additional feedback about the new center, information that Black said will further help with finalizing the plans.

“That’s what we’re looking for: the public’s input,” he said. “In the next few months we will be finalizing everything and making changes based on this feedback.”

Frequent bus commuter Terrell Dixon said the new center seems more “up with 2012,” and can’t wait for it to be done.

“It looks more modern, more attractive to the eye,” the 20-year-old student said, while filling out a survey. “It needs the upgrade and little things like the USB charging stations are really convenient.”

The AATA will be continuing the display and public feedback surveys Thursday from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.


G. Orwell

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

"Black said up-to-date budget figures for the project are not available. When it was first proposed, it was estimated at $3.7 million, which was raised to $4 million in 2010, then to $5.5 million in 2011." If Michael Ford and AATA is this bad at controlling their budget, do you trust them with $600 million county wide expansion???????


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

NO THANKS!!! Doesn't the city know they can buy 7 pieces of art with that money, maybe even eight or nine. This is a pork barrel scenario, and there are a lot of residents who aren't biting. There is nothing wrong with the one we got..... Why doesn't the city put the money into things we "NEED", instead dreaming up scams for things we don't need. Starting with the homeless shelter, and Huron Vally Animal Shelter. They need these funds to help "life" way more then we need an unneeded new bus station. There are things we can do to upgrade the existing one. I say maybe $100,000.00, and give the rest to the needy.

Thomas Walsh

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 5:31 p.m.

As far as I'm concerned, I could care less about the proposed bus station, because it isn't going to change the fact that the buses run late 85% of the time, resulting in missing my transfer. Then you're forced to wait a half an hour. When you're disabled, it's no longer an inconvienance.

Karen Hart

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 4:48 p.m.

The easier and nicer it is for people to ride the bus, the more who will do it. Just get rid of the "modernistic" shelters that shelter no one from the weather.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 3:50 p.m.

for 7500 sq foot where is a coffee /bagelshop/newstand. It is so silly there is no news vendor in downtown Ann Arbor. I had a tough time finding a NYT the other day in town. Can't a corner of this be leased out for this type of thing?

Ron Granger

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 4:46 p.m.

Lease a corner of a building? Wow, talk about high startup and fixed costs! How much money do you think there is in selling newspapers? If you think this is a viable business, start one. Buy a mobile news cart, cut some deals, hire someone to staff the cart and sell the papers. How many people who ride the bus buy an expensive paper like the NYT?

Ron Granger

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 3:09 p.m.

"That's what we're looking for: the public's input" INPUT: Cut the cost in half. They seem to be trying to put frosting on a pig here. It's just a bus terminal for short haul bussing. People won't be spending the night here, we hope. Make it *cheap*. Not ghastly ugly, but cheap. It should all be about functionality. It should be about reducing the cost of the invevitable vandalism. Spend the money elsewhere, where it counts. And don't blow our art budget on a bus terminal. It doesn't make the experience any better, and people who are angry about late buses will just tend to vandalize it.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 3 p.m.

Why not a simple eco friendly seating and shelter system along the row where the busses queue? This isn't Grand Central Station where people need to wait for hours to get transportation or transfer rides. Riders should be on busses, not enclosed in climate controlled facilities that take up valuable downtown real estate (otherwise taxable). Look at the Ann Arbor Amtrack station in comparison and those folks are going on long trips!


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Awesome improvements. #5 & 7 are always full or over full and these enhanhancement to the terminal are definitely welcome.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

While I rarely ride the bus (job and house don't live in areas serviced :( ) from what I see it's highly used and is one of the better systems in the area (ok, Detroit is our neighbor so it's not saying too much I suppose) I do hope that the center planned for how would a light-rail or mass transit system fit into the center in the future. I'm not saying build it (yet) but if someone from a powerful company in the valley were to sponsor some kind of mass transit for the area, it sure would be nice if it tied into this new system easily. I suppose having the second story does this already - allowing for support of an elevated rail stop to be incorporated into that floor in the future if something such ever happens.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

If you wish to see a good utility - please go to Chicago! Ann Arbor is pretty much underutilized and not enough folks to run it efficiently. As some folks mentioned, you have to have them run in the evenings everywhere. not this one hour wait times, and no weekends on certain routes. Some routes shutdown after 5:00 pm


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:02 p.m.

I ride AATA frequently, between 5 and 10 times a week, and I am always puzzled when people say that they are one of 2 or 3 people on the bus. Maybe it is route and/or time dependent but I have ridden 4, 5, 6, and 7 fairly frequently over the past 20 years and have generally found the buses to be on time, the drivers courteous and conscientious, and the seats pretty full. On 4 and 5 there are often people standing in the aisle within 3 stops of the down town transit center. It is often the case the it is cheaper and easier to tear down what is there and build new, than try to fix and retrofit. I am guessing that is probably the case with Blake. I believe that the plan also includes money for more hybrid buses, right? I'm glad that AATA is striving to improve their service and their facilities.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

I agree I've seen buses busy when passing and when I worked downtown - many folks got on and off at the stops when I was following the bus.

Angry Moderate

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

Are you a bus driver, or the contractor for the new building? We've all seen the empty buses driving around town, and a $5 million building doesn't improve service.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

Unreal! $5.5 mil for 7,500 sf = $734/sf. That's a lot of pepperoni for that tiny slice of pie. Some architects and contractors will be very, very happy. Indeed! They absolutely love the City of Ann Arbor and its devotion to exponentially growing frivolous extravagance. Anyone hear the rumor that the toilet paper used in City Hall is giant rolls of $100 bills? Makes sense, as we observe the continual flush of "meaningless tax dollars" down the drain!


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

So since the latest edifice has grown another 25% in area we can probably assume another 25% (at least) increase in cost. That puts it at roughly $6.9 million versus their first estimate of $3.7 million. By the time it's actually built it will probably cost more than TWICE their original estimate. If I was that far off in the work I do I'd be unemployed, and rightly so. Who's in favor of providing additional funding to these people to expand into the county? No, really.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:49 p.m.

As long as AATA runs in the red, I'm voting against all expenditures!


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

This is another example of the ongoing problems with AATA. This is just glitter and really does not improve actual bus service. I live in the city, on 7th street and currently I can walk to the downtown area faster than taking an AATA bus. If AATA wants people to take public transportation; AATA needs to improve its service, not add shiny new buildings. I find myself taking the UofM shuttle bus to get to and from the downtown area or campus. The UofM buses run every 10 to 15 mins and not once an hour as the AATA bus does in front of my house. Those shuttle buses are usually full too. I have taken the AATA buses and have found that I am one of two or three on the bus. AATA buses are they ever full? AATA needs to get serious about public transportation and offer service that people can rely on. Maybe take look at the way that UofM is doing things? There is no need for a bigger building, more office space etc. It would be nice to have more frequent buses or better routine (and less management). This is a waste of money. Another reason I would not support any new millage increase, not until there is better management who really understands the issues.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:17 p.m.

esp with the later hour parking fees that will be thrust upon us...the evening schedules of bus should be more than hourly. I would seriously take the bus into town more often-but after a meal / film/ music-- the bus schedule is not user friendly for evening. Skip the fancy station and send out buses more frequently....try it on a pilot basis on a few main routes.

Les Gov

Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

"Black said up-to-date budget figures for the project are not available. When it was first proposed, it was estimated at $3.7 million, which was raised to $4 million in 2010, then to $5.5 million in 2011." Sounds to me like someone wants to make his castle even larger. This town loves to spend tax dollars on government buildings. I use the Blake Transit center twice a day, every day. Sometimes more than that. There is nothing...and I mean nothing...wrong with the Blake building that a little maintenance wouldn't take care of. As tax payers we don't need to buy someone a Castle in order to ride the bus.


Thu, Jan 12, 2012 : 2:46 p.m.

Didn't you know they wish to expand the empire past Ann Arbor thru Wastenaw county and into Detroit, until the pretext for social experimentation. wink! wink!