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Posted on Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Ann Arbor agrees to Ypsilanti's request for membership in AATA

By Ryan J. Stanton

The city of Ypsilanti's membership in the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority is one step closer to becoming official after action taken by the Ann Arbor City Council.

The council voted 10-0 Monday night to approve changes to the articles of incorporation for the AATA, which is being renamed the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority — or AAATA.


The city of Ypsilanti could join with Ann Arbor to form the new Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The name change reflects the expanded geographic area in which the authority will operate, with Ypsilanti poised to become an official member soon.

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje said welcoming Ypsilanti into the authority is a way to create a more unified transit system linking the two communities.

"I'm very much in favor of this," he said. "They are our closest partner in so many things, and part of the urban core. I think it's important we recognize this."

The changes give Ypsilanti all rights granted to members of the authority under Act 55, the state law under which Ann Arbor incorporated the city's transit authority in July 1968.

The changes also alter the composition of the authority's governing board, increasing it from seven to nine members — giving Ypsilanti one member appointed by its mayor with concurrence of the Ypsilanti City Council. The other new seat will be an additional Ann Arbor representative.

The new articles of incorporation still need to be acted on by the Ypsilanti City Council and the AATA board. Ypsilanti has specifically requested to become a member of the AATA as local officials look for ways to expand transit services in the county's urban core.

It's possible other communities such as Ypsilanti Township and Pittsfield Township could follow Ypsilanti's lead and join the authority in the future.

When adopted by all parties, the amended articles of incorporation will be filed with the Washtenaw County Clerk's Office and the Michigan Secretary of State.

The proposal voted on at Monday night's meeting was sponsored by Hieftje and Council Members Sabra Briere, D-1st Ward, and Stephen Kunselman, D-3rd Ward.

"It is one step that's necessary," Briere said. "This does not address funding. It's only the beginning of the discussion."

Jerry Lax, an attorney for the AATA, said the new articles create a mechanism by which funding for services can occur if voters in both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti approve it.

Ypsilanti contracts for AATA services through a purchase-of-service agreement right now. Lax said there's interest in enhancing services between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

"This is a first step. It doesn't by itself create new funding, but it does give Ypsilanti a more active role in governance and does create a mechanism where the voters in both jurisdictions can approve additional funding," Lax old council members.

Council Member Chuck Warpehoski, D-5th Ward, was absent.

Kunselman said he's a strong proponent of retaining the AATA as an Act 55 authority — instead of a countywide transit authority organized under Act 196, which was contemplated last year.

He said communities east of Ann Arbor — Ypsilanti included — are responsible for a significant amount of the AATA's ridership, which brings in federal dollars.

"There is a strong connection between the communities to the east — the urban core — and the city of Ann Arbor," he said. "And I think it's important that we give a voice at the table for the communities, particularly the city of Ypsilanti, to at least talk about the needs for service."

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber said the Ypsilanti City Council is probably looking at putting the articles of incorporation on its June 18 agenda for approval.

"It's not just for Ypsilanti. It's for Ann Arbor, too," he said. "I think what it gives Ann Arbor is what the AATA has been looking for, and that is really making it more of a regional transit authority. This is taking it one piece at a time. I think the city of Ypsilanti's piece goes down easiest." 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.



Thu, Jun 6, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

If this addition to the AATA was going to gouge money from Ann Arbor I'm sure we would have been slapped in the face with these facts. The article would be titled "How Ypsilanti Bankrupts the AATA". We forget to remember that Ypsilanti taxes are going to be raised about 3 mileage to support this addition along with funds from city organizations to help update the Ypsilanti bus station. A bussing system that will allow citizens to get to their jobs or have access to transportation like never before improves a community and entices new citizens. I don't know if you have owned a house before but much like a house a better neighbor (or neighboring city) improves the grand scheme of things (crime, property value, shops, businesses,...).

Dog Guy

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

This change requires doubling compensation for the board members and administrators, recognition called the AAATA Boy.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

Any guesses as tio how mnay months it will be before AATA (or AAATA) will "need" a multi-million dollar super-station built in Ypsi?


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

It would be nice to know who is paying for what. I am sure the articles of incorporation cover this topic, or it was discussed by the Ann Arbor City Council at some point to be included in By-laws or Master Operating Agreement of the AAATA.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

I can't judge the whole deal, but this is a way better approach than that "regional force'em in" approach last year. Let the communities that want to work together give it a shot.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 12:46 p.m.

Public transportation is important for the future of SE MI and the country as a whole. Use of individual vehicles is not ecologically sound for a number of reasons. Michigan is behind on this because the car factories/corporations were here for so many years and stopped the use of public transportation. If you are only concerned about yourself, check out the current price of gas.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

So how much to change all the signage, buses, stationery, etc from AATA to AAATA? Nothing a hundred grand of taxpayer dollars can't take care of. You really had to change the name? No, really??


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

Get ready, the taxing is just beginning. What do you suppose is meant by "urban core"? This is the beginning of a roundabout way to return to a regional transit plan. I feel for the taxpayers in Ypsi, they are about to have their democratically choosen tax cap violated by the AAATA taxing authority, along with the rest of us, in support of regional transit.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

Do we really need to add another A to AATA? I'm also in shock that the council would consider saying yes to something that didn't bring in additional revenue.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 4:29 a.m.

I'm glad we're dumping more money into transit for another city when we can't fund public safety or basic services efficiently with our already exorbitant tax rates. Not to mention isn't the AATA slated to have funds slashed by the state-sponsored transit plan?

Steve Pierce

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 2:12 a.m.

This is a way to increase the Ypsilanti tax millage above the 20 mills, just another a tax increase for beleaguered property owners already paying the second highest property taxes in the entire state. Wheee...

Mark Hergott

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

Statutory taxes are not the same as effective taxes. Ypsilanti taxpayers like you and me pay less taxes for the same amount of house in Ann Arbor because our houses are assessed at a lower value than our neighbors on the other side of US-23.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 1:33 a.m.

Great! Who and how is this paid for again?

Basic Bob

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 3:51 a.m.

Your federal tax dollars at work.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

When is this AATA expansion going to the A2 taxpayers?

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

Come on in! A2 taxpayers would love to subsidize you!


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 3:27 p.m.

Ypsi is welcome, as long as AATA is reimbursed for Ypsi's share of the current infrastructure and other imbedded already paid for expenses.

Basic Bob

Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 11:40 p.m.

Now if we could fill in the gap between the two cities with a permanent agreement between the authority, Pittsfield, and Ypsilanti Townships.

Nicholas Urfe

Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 11:58 p.m.

"Now if we could fill in the gap between the two cities with a permanent ..." Wall? I really thought you were going to say Wall.


Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 11:08 p.m.

Obviously this is a gold mine for Ypsilanti, which now gets a say about buses while not actually, you now, paying for buses.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 1 p.m.

"Ypsilanti contracts for AATA services through a purchase-of-service agreement right now. " I may be wrong, but I assume a "purchase-of-service agreement" involves an actual "purchase", yes? So they would, in fact, be "paying for buses".

Glen S.

Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 3:36 a.m.

Ypsilanti voters recently -- and overwhelmingly -- voted to increase their own taxes to support continued and expanded AATA services. The idea that Ypsilanti is looking for a handout from Ann Arbor taxpayers is tired ... and needs to be retired.


Wed, Jun 5, 2013 : 1:30 a.m.

They only have one vote so that's not much of a say.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Jun 4, 2013 : 11:45 p.m.

they get a vote but if they can be outvoted do they have a real say? I don't know, I'm asking.