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Posted on Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor Connector: Public input sought on high-capacity transit project

By Ryan J. Stanton


The Connector is a developing plan for high-capacity transit in an arc from northeast to south Ann Arbor, connecting major destinations — including downtown, the University of Michigan campuses and medical center, and other commercial areas. Download larger version of map.

Ann Arbor Connector

The next public meeting for the Ann Arbor Connector planning process takes place Tuesday and community members are encouraged to attend.

The workshop-style event is scheduled from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the downtown library, with several opportunities for the public to provide feedback.


This example of bus rapid transit on 34th Street in Manhattan was included in a previous presentation on the Ann Arbor Connector.

URS Corp.

The Connector is a developing plan for high-capacity transit in an arc from northeast to south Ann Arbor, connecting major destinations — including downtown, the University of Michigan campuses and medical center, and other commercial areas.

In early 2011, the city of Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority and the University of Michigan collaborated to complete a feasibility study that concluded a high-capacity transit service in the study corridor is feasible and that demand is sufficient to consider streetcars, bus rapid transit, light rail or an elevated guideway such as a monorail.

The project is now in the alternatives analysis stage, where community input is needed to determine a locally preferred alternative that will specify the type of transit technology (bus rapid transit, streetcar, light rail or elevated guideway), service levels, route alignment, station locations and costs.

Tuesday's workshop is open to anyone who wants to attend, including residents, business owners, and other stakeholders or interested parties.

The workshop agenda:

  • 4:30-5:30 p.m. — Open House
  • 5:30-6:00 p.m. — Presentation
  • 6:00-7:00 p.m. — Breakout Groups: "Connect The Connector"
  • 7:00-7:30 p.m. — Presentation
  • 7:30-8:00 p.m. — Open House

The open house portion of the workshop will feature displays on the various modes of travel under consideration, as well as possible route options.

Project staff and representatives from the organizations collaborating on the project will be available to further explain the displays, answer questions and record comments.

The presentation will provide a brief overview of the project. The breakout groups will be an opportunity for the public to review segments of the Connector route and make comments.

This is the second in a series of public input opportunities, the first of which were held in December, and there will be additional opportunities later this year.

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.


Jay Thomas

Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

Ann Arbor should not be subsidizing the U (which is what this really this). Run your own bus line; you have ten times the money to do it with!


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

It is about time. YES, this is a great idea.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 9:05 p.m.

Not needed. #7 to #2 covers that arch as well as Commuter North/South to Intercampus. I would rather have that extra money spent on buses that ran until at least midnight. Stopping at 9 or 10 is really too early, and they're completely useless on the weekends.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

In the 2011 presentations to the Financial Task Force (running up to the countywide transit plan), the consultants presented the following estimates of cost for the north-south connector (the one being discussed here): 5 years: $4 million capital, $0 operating. 30 years: $114 million capital (total), $4.5 million operating (one year annual operating cost) This did not specify the source of funds. Capital costs could be all grants or loans (but matching funds are often required), operating costs could be paid partly by Federal and state transportation funding, part fares, part by local sources.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

Some background: this has been in the planning stage for quite a while. I documented the UM's transportation forum in which these ideas were launched to the public in 2010. See my post The AATA sought and received a Federal grant to pay for this phase of the study. (There was a previous phase which I believe was also supported by a grant.) They received a $1.2 million grant in 2012. Like most Federal transportation grants, a 20% matching amount was required. (Total of $300,000) UM contributed $150,00, AATA contributed $90,000, DDA contributed $30,000 and the City of Ann Arbor contributed $30,000. How will it be paid for if launched? The Federal government trend toward funding transportation projects is now trending towards LOANS, not grants. (As a start, consult references to TIFIA program.) There are likely some interesting conversations looming in the future about who applies for those loans and how they are repaid. Another unexplored aspect is the role of the RTA in this planning. In theory, they will have to approve it and also any discretionary money (grants) obtained from the Federal Government will have to be channeled through the RTA. (Here is an old post discussing the RTA. Also consult SEMCOG's page

Rick Neubig

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:14 a.m.

If you've ever tried to get from the UM Medical area to Briarwood by car, you'd know why this is needed. If this benefits commuters and you are worried that they aren't paying for it, add a city income tax and cut property tax rates to offset.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:40 a.m.

Too easy... from Med Center it only takes 5 turns. Its still only about 3 miles, even through town it takes less than 20 minutes.

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

You could take the highway. And who goes to briarwood?


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

...Because we all know how the urge to get Cinnabon can strike right after after a long day of drawing blood. P.S. If there's something you can find at Briarwood that can't be found on, let me know.

G. Orwell

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 12:28 a.m.

Build the world's longest and fastest ski lift.

G. Orwell

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:14 p.m.

Install the world's longest and fastest ski lift.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 9:55 p.m.

What happened to my last "public input opportunity" on AATA transit, when I asked that they run a few key buses later in the evening? I drove to the green fair last night because I could not take a bus home after it was over. Will this project connect me from downtown to my house after 9 or 10 p.m.?

Shawn Letwin

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 9:42 p.m.

The Ann Arbor Connector? How absurd! Call it what it really is...the UofM connector. Municipalities put in connectors to connect areas of commerce or to mitigate geographical separation that roads or other standard modes of transportation cannot address. What a waste of money and resources...but that is just what the connector would be so it all makes cents (sic). Might as well also prepare to change the name of Ann Arbor to incorporate (UofM into it) and the picture of a sock puppet in the dictionary should be changed to Heiftje


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 11:24 a.m.

Which is exactly why the University should pay for and maintain the portions of the system on its property.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 9:23 p.m.

Ann Arbor bears little resemblance to NYC's density, scale or traffic congestion. This is a ridiculous and wasteful proposition when there are other sensible options out there. You do have to wonder who stands to gain financially from such an idea? Also worth noting, how such transportation projects tend to go over budget and beyond projected completion deadlines (sometimes by years).


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 9:01 p.m.

There is good news for some in this effort and bad for others. The good news is that the Kroger lot on Plymouth Road will be full everyday, as people decide not to fight the traffic of the reduced lanes to get downtown. The stores in that shopping center should do well. The bad news is the parking revenue from commuters downtown will go down significantly, potentially ending the Mayor's extra pot of money. The good news is with the parking garages empty, the lots they stand on can be repurposed for high rises. The better news is the new underground parking lot will be empty and can be used as a combination homeless shelter and skateboard park - think of all those ramps in the winter. In short there are lots of knock on effects that no one is talking about.

Rita Mitchell

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

The meetings start prior to the end of the work day. Will information be repeated during the later portions, so that people who work can have an opportunity to participate? Questions that I think should be asked, in addition to the cost questions that have already been presented here: -Who are the anticipated riders? Provide numbers by type: student within campus, faculty/staff within campus, commuters to campus, commuters to non-campus, etc. -What will encourage an out of town driver to get out of his/her car at a park & ride lot and use whatever Connector option is provided? (Isn't it possible to build a Connector, and have target users bypass it, because of parking available downtown?) -What is the proposed distance between stops? My understanding is that the Connector is planned to require more walking of users, because stops are at designated locations only, not on-demand, as is the case in existing bus transit, and would function more like a subway stop. -Clarify the proposed route. The boomerang has kept us all in limbo about the plan. Is the intent to run it through the Huron River Valley and to repurpose park land? Is the proposal to have a monorail coming through the State and Liberty area? Through the Diag? On William St? Without specifics, and with continued requests to ask people for what they want without including the costs in dollars for capital and maintenance, costs of land, the proposal remains a vague fantasy. Inching people closer to a costly "yes" without explaining what MAY be delivered is unfair. The process feels much like the failed Countywide Transportation proposal in which the "Smart" plan was identified as best, and failed when its costs were revealed. Please ask the staff and consultants for specifics.

Dog Guy

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 7:23 p.m.

"He who pays the piper calls the tune", and U of M pays the city hall band more money than taxpayers do.

David Cahill

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 6:51 p.m.

More wretched excess.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 6:41 p.m.

How much is the University of Michigan going to pay for the new rail system to service their campus? Why are taxpayers being asked to further subsidize a non-taxpaying institution?

Arno B

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:32 p.m.

For those of you who have read Ayn Rand's "Capitalism: The Forgotten Ideal" you will note that there are three words which aren't asked in this presentation of another grandiose transit scheme: "At whose expense?" The AATA is involved in this project. Note that they have been down at City Hall recently hoisting what I suppose could be called a "trial balloon" to see whether an AATA millage might pass. Referring to an announcement in the March 7, 2013, the AATA would shut down rather quickly if all they received was from AA taxes. Note that the AATA's "Proposed State and Federal Application for FY 2014 Operating and Capital Assistance" consists of: $11, 590,000 for Operating Assistance; $ 876,000 for State Capital and Categorical Assistance; and $ 3,504,000 for Federal Capital and Categorical Assistance. The of May 23, 2013 lists the FY 2013 "Program of Projects" totalling $42,245,549 of which the "Federal Share" (John Dingle: Are you listening?) is 8,832,204. Where actually do these requested State and Federal sums originate? Why are they not talked about? How much larger will AATA's begging bowl get if "Connector" starts materializing?


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

We have no Capitalism in America, we have a regulated market and a regulated economy. Capitalism assumes a free market economy and the selection of "winners" and "losers" by the market.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:35 p.m.

This is about UM moving people from south and central campuses to north campuses. They should pay for it, not the taxpayers of AA. Oh, unless UM wants to start paying property taxes..........

Vince Caruso

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:26 p.m.

This seems like another attempt to subsidize the U, like the Fuller Park conversion to a U parking garage. The U needs to step up and assist the city. Most folks move here that work at the U do so mainly because of the livability of the city, which the U contributes little to. If anything, taking all the properties off the tax roles is a major problem, with resistance to do a PiLoT program to help they city. 'Don't bite the hand that feeds you', something they should have learned in kindergarten.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:36 a.m.

The Fuller Park conversion was much much more than a parking garage, but A2 folk are too myopic to see that. I would love a place to park in AA, connect to a bus to get around in town, or take a light rail to metro airport. But then again I'm a disabled vet and have mobility problems, what could I possibly know about getting around?

Peter Eckstein

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:05 p.m.

In addition to all the substantive concerns that others have raised, I have a procedural one. Like so many other "public input" events I have attended put on by the AATA and others, the real approach is a snow job presentation in plenary session plus "breakout" groups in which members of the public can comment on particular aspects of the Big Plan. There is no opportunity for members of the public in the plenary event to question whether we want the Big Plan, need it, or feel we can afford it. One example was the recent public input session on "Reimagine Washtenaw." When the long Power Point snow job was over, we were told to go to our choice of breakout sessions. Some of us asked if we would first be allowed to ask questions or make general comments. We were allowed a few, and someone asked if the dozen or so transportation planners in the room had any numbers on how much of the formidable car and truck traffic on Washtenaw (Business I-94) was coming from or going to US-23. The answer was "no." So, in the course of a multi-million dollar planning effort, no one had yet bothered to ask that basic question--who is using Washtenaw and for what reasons? Enough, already.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:09 p.m.

Yes by the time public input is asked for, the grants have already been written. Public input in this town is a joke, the decisions have already been made. I support and salute those who do show up to give input, and encourage all to continue to do so, but it seems very after the fact.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

So, they are using NYC as a model? Because there are so many similarities between NYC and AA?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:02 p.m.

Sure, because we have 7 million people that live along this corridor like NYC...well, never mind. It's more of a Shelbyville idea.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:17 p.m.

Uh, why not just run more buses?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:02 p.m.

...and more smaller buses, such as the size of the "Dial a Ride" buses that were in use in Ann Arbor in the late 1970's.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

Ryan, it seems like if Mr. Ranzini's numbers are correct, it would make for a great story to talk to some city leaders and money managers and get answers to questions like "where would the money come from?" It's not a frivolous question, nor does it seem to early to ask. From that study (or should I say from THOSE studIES), was the result "Yes, we definitely need to do something about new improved mass transit?" Does everyone know the history of Detroit's People Mover? Because it looks to me like that's happening here. And if it does, shame on us ALL for letting it happen.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 9:51 p.m.

I agree. An article by Ryan Stanton in which the financial realities of creating these corridors is frankly discussed will be of interest to all readership. The costs for some forms of transportation to be used with the corridors is mind-boggling. Since federal and state dollars will not be available for these local projects Ann Arbor tax payers will want to know how proponents of streetcar, light rail or elevated guideway transportation options will finance their pet projects.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

It's "feasible"? So what. Many, many things are "feasible". It's feasible to fly people to the moon, for example. But it is quite expensive it turns out. "Feasible" is mostly an engineering question. As far as this "demand", I don't really see it outside of possibly the university. In which case they need to build it themselves. The reason it's shaped like a boomerang is because the idea just keeps coming back.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.



Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:04 p.m.

This project is primarily concerned with moving people between the UofM North Campus and the UofM Central Campus. So, let the UofM pay for it. For the UofM to use their employee, HIzzoner the Mayor, to spend any a2 taxpayer dollars to fund this scheme is appalling.

Alan Goldsmith

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:59 p.m.

This is the kind of project our AATA tax dollars should be going into. Not the Mayor's train to Howell or buses every fifteen minutes to Lodi Township. We'll see how this plays out but taxpayers want our transportation dollars going to make getting around this city into something that's world class. We don't need babbling about how nice it would be to take a train to Detroit's Eastern Market. A step in the right direction.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8 p.m.

How many people from Ann Arbor go to Detroit's Eastern Market? How many people would take a train to Detroit's Eastern Market? The most likely Ann Arbor customers of Eastern Market are restaurants and other food businesses. They need to carry their large purchases in trucks or other vehicles. Would Ann Arborites actually spend hours going to and from Eastern Market for items for a household or even a fraternity house instead of buying locally?

Tom Abdelnour

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

A2greatful, is right on ! I would like to add one more: 5. Modify our stop lights so traffic will flow much better, then add 5-10 mph to the speed limits. Can the city please stop looking for ways to waste money?


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:34 a.m.

All you have to do is 5 over the posted limit and you can make the lights. Now I'm not suggesting anyone do anything illegal, ever, just an observation (yep, done it, do it).


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:05 p.m.

Did not mean to offend you Gill if you work in that city dept.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:12 p.m.

Tom It would be helpful if the numbskulls at the city would get out and actually look at how inefficient some lights are.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

A great way to reduce the evils of idling.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

@Tom Abdelnour: I agree that better and more widespread deployment of electronic synchronized traffic signaling on major arteries would be an excellent investment to reduce congestion and raise efficiency. The speed limits on some roads (such as Huron Parkway between Geddes and Washtenaw) should definitely be raised and @Jim Walker has made many excellent comments on that topic.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

1) Run existing busses more often, as needed. 2) Use larger capacity busses. 3) Use the park and ride lots all over town as feeders, if needed. Not all are fully utilized. 4) If UM needs more capacity, let them buy it.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

When buses break down they jam the existing roads. Trains, especially elevated trains, only jam their own rails. And what are you fueling the buses with?

joan hellmann

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 2:26 p.m.

Regarding "busses" in a previous reply: those of us of a certain age were taught that the s gets doubled when pluralizing a word that has a short vowel. It's the same as with "gasses", but not "fuses."


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

Are there any double decker buses anywhere around? If not, is there a reason? Hello, UM? You have bazillions of dollars. Spend them on YOUR needs.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 7:54 p.m.

I agree with your comments. Did you have something else on your mind when you wrote "busses" instead of "buses." That's cute since a buss is a kiss.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:33 p.m.

Excellent post


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

Our city is nowhere NEAR large enough for something like this... This is an absolute waste of funds...


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 11:30 a.m.

Ya don't get it, do you? You build infrastructure in anticipation of NEED, not after the existing infrastructure is broken. How many cars do you think were on US-23 when it was first built? I can remember driving it and not seeing anyone else in either direction for 10 minutes. I guess they must have installed a 1/2" waterline direct to your house, right? Or could they have installed a main basis on _expected_ need? It is called PLANNING.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:17 a.m.

I do not understand the motivation for expanding public transportation down these corridors. Presently, the bus service along Plymouth Road and extending to the medical campus and then downtown is perfectly satisfactory. Long lines of passengers do not queue up at bus stops and have to wait long times for the next empty bus. The time necessary to travel by bus downtown from Traver mall/Plymouth mall is not unusually long. With SEMCOG's prediction that Ann Arbor's population will only grow by 6% in the next 27 years, expanding commuter service along the corridors is hardly urgent if at all necessary. The cost for expanding commuter services along the corridors (Plymouth Road, Washtenaw Avenue and South State Street) is prohibitive for every other conveyance except buses. With local population growth to be modest over the next couple of decades, additional needs for commuter transportation will best be accomplished by adding more buses and modifying the routes that they travel. Any other plan will be wasteful and unjustified.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:05 p.m.

"Long lines of passengers do not queue up at bus stops and have to wait long times for the next empty bus." EXACTLY!!! This is the reason why large cities put in mass commuter systems. We do not have this problem...not even there is NO need for something like that.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

We want the bike lanes that no-one uses out, and the roads back. And I thought we already indicated we didn't want a mass transit project costing millions - how many more times do we have to say no? Our property taxes have been raised while the surrounding communities have decreased theirs, in line with the massive collapse in housing prices. Millions have been siphoned off for irrelevant art projects and bike lanes that no one uses. The roundabout king continues to create major rush hour jam ups.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:10 p.m.

In the bike lanes, where they are available, is where I want the cyclists. Just don't want confusion about what lane CARS need to be in to go straight.....hello Main & Catherine(Miller). And how about demanding that they behave like a "wheeled" vehicle and learn how to stop at red lights and stop signs, Yield, use hand signals, etc.? Wouldn't that be so nice? Where I don't want them is on the sideWALK or paved pathways in parks until they learn to use a bell or say "on your left" & slow down around pedestrians, runners, parents with little ones......before they hurt anyone else. Now what was that about a "high-capacity transit project?" And a monorail at that. Are "they" serious? Where are we Toto?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 7:52 p.m.

Regardless of opinions regarding what some people want and what will be used, "Our property taxes have been raised." That has happened, millage by millage. It's bad for local small businesses when residents have less money to spend locally. Whether that small business is a farmer selling produce at a local farmer's market or a local hardware store, they will suffer if more local money goes into paying for fixed rail, local transportation.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 7:35 p.m.

You are living in the wrong city. There are cities east of here called Canton, Livonia, and Novi that would be more suited to you. For the folks who are now doing 50 mph on main street - you are becoming more dangerous daya by day- You are also welcome to more to a race track

Rod Johnson

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.

There is no "we," Karen. It's your opinion; don't try to speak for everyone.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:05 p.m.

I want a pony. But I need to be realistic because it isn't all about me.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:03 p.m.

Really? Cause I don't. In fact as I was out yesterday I even noted that I saw multiple people on the sidewalk where new bike lanes were installed. Maybe they didn't want to have to ride in the roadway that is intended for MOTOR vehicles....that's why I rode on the sidewalk almost exclusively when I rode my bike all over town growing up... Totally disagree with you about roundabouts....we need MORE of them. It's absolutely amazing how they clear up traffic claiming that they create rush hour jams is just laughable...


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:52 a.m.

That's funny, I see people using bike lanes all the time - of course, half the time it's motorists driving in them illegally. Up on Plymouth, it's about half the cyclists using the bike lanes and half on the sidewalks. Maybe if the motorists would get out of the bike lanes, the rest of the cyclists would consider moving to the bike lanes, instead of blasting past the pedestrians on the sidewalks. So they put in bike lanes and told you that you can't use the road? What planet is that on? If your taxes have gone up, it's because your neighborhood's house prices haven't fallen. Our neighborhood is like that. Sale prices dropped just a bit, for only about a year, then started rising again. I just did a refinance and found the appraised value had dropped, but not enough for taxes to go down or even keep rising. But a few months later we had a couple of sales that pushed the value back higher again.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:02 a.m.

I am looking forward to the U building a monorail! It will be GREAT!


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority and the University of Michigan collaborated The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority are as good as it gets for WASTING tax payer money on hair brain ideas modeled after cities with populations 15 times greater than Ann Arbor! The University of Michigan is as good as it gets for getting their way for free.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 7:44 p.m.

Yes and in the much larger cities, there's heavy ridership by paying customers. Among other things, heavy usage enables schedules that include frequency and flexibility.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:42 a.m.

When Michigan Theatre needed to be saved from the wrecking ball, Mayor Belcher kicked in $5,000 of city money to kick start the effort, and raised the rest from the private sector, including the money I chipped in from our bank. If that project were run by our current Mayor, I would imagine that the taxpayers would have invested over $1 million renovating the Michigan Theatre and today it would still be losing money every year paid for with a public taxpayer funded subsidy. With mass transit such as the Ann Arbor Connector, the economic benefits accrue largely to the commuters and the real estate owners of properties near the mass transit stations, as their building rise in value substantially. But does the AATA even recover 10% of its expenses from commuter fares? What is the business plan here beyond just building it and subsidizing it on the taxpayer dime indefinitely? It is a form of taxpayer funded corporate welfare or will a business plan be pursued that captures value from the impact on real estate values of this plan to make the operation self sustaining in the long run? Is this a "Michigan Theatre" kind of a project or yet another Dreiseitl Huirinal, criminal encompassing Radius, Rog Mahal or Garage Mahal, road diets on major busy streets, subsidized street performer hand out program kind of idea? For example, the Japanese railway firms are worth over a hundred billion dollars, because they own the real estate around and above the rail stations they build and the real estate profits more than offset any losses from the rail business.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

@Steve: To be specific and for example: 1. I've seen single unit self-propelled trains built by a firm in Oregon and deployed in various places around the U.S. that cost $5 million. They are very efficient, require less staff to operate and two or three of them could provide shuttle services between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor or ... 2. ...between park and ride lots and U-M Health System and downtown Ann Arbor. 3. Does the train run back and forth then every 10 minutes or four times a day like the current plan. This will impact demand and therefore revenue. 4. How many stops? Ann Arbor, Ypsi, DTW, Dearborn and Detroit only like the current plan? What about EMU, St. Joseph's Hospital, Washtenaw Community College, U-M Stadium? 5. Are the workers unionized or not? What level of wages and benefits will be paid, comparable to private sector wages and benefits or the much higher public wages and benefits? 6. Who gets the benefit of real estate development along the line especially at and above train stations? You see there are many choices which will determine revenue and expenses. I see no evidence that the current plan on the table which is projected to cost $389.7 million for the tab for commuter rail operated through 2040 listed in the WATS plan alone takes efficiency into account. I believe that a savvy business plan would require much less and perhaps little or no public taxpayer subsidy.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 7:45 p.m.

@Steve: There is nothing wrong with rising real estate values as a result of a mass transit project, unless the taxpayers pay the expense of it, and the benefits are all privatized to the property owners through corporate welfare. There is nothing wrong with road diets, unless you try to do road diets on roads with more than 10,000 cars per day or 1,000 cars per hour at rush hour, beyond which the research indicates it is a bad idea and creates more congestion and grid lock. I'm all in favor of walkable streets and walkable cities. I live downtown. I am all in favor of New Urbanism and mixed use density. People live on average ten years longer if they live in a New Urbanism community and the last ten years of their life are healthier. My concern is not the concept of mass transit. In concept it is excellent public policy. My concern is exactly how to do it and who pays for the cost. These plans are very expensive and little consideration appears to have been given to running these commuter train services in an optimized manner. There is a smart way and an inefficient way to create a business plan and run any business or service whether for profit, not for profit or civic.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:49 p.m.

Why is the increase of real estate prices along railways and public transit routes a problem? If prices are rising it is because people are demanding to live along them... so obviously this is beneficial.... Anytime you subsidize something... you encourage more of it.... and What is wrong with Road Diets? What is up with this sense of car entitlement...? Road Diets discourage driving because traffic does slow down ... which increases the quality of life in a city.... Slow moving traffic encourages a better street life and if people demand faster moving options... then they can choose rapid bus or light rail.... If you love driving and cars so much there are many other cities you can choose to live in..... Ann Arbor is trying to go in the right direction... The problem seems to be you're not offering any vision or solution... You just complain about the actions people are taking... Solution: Stop trying to fix traffic...There is nothing wrong with traffic.... Traffic on a two lane main street is desirable.... even if it's backed up.... traffic on a two lane liberty is desirable.. as people enjoy walking up and down those streets..... High Capacity transit will only be successful if it competes with roads... giving people a choice of driving or transit. The issue is creating mixed use density outside of the downtown area.... so if people lived above retail on washtenaw vs. having to commute from ypsi...the bus system or a light rail system would be desirable and would stop people from needing to drive everywhere. Stop the suburban sprawl model of development with parking lots in front.... put the businesses in front and the parking lots in the back... have three stories where people lived above the shops.... there is tons of wasted space... people like to live close together (not crammed, but close enough so they feel connected and a sense of community)... if you don't.. that's why there is rural country areas.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:26 a.m.

Like public art, in principle, mass transit like the Ann Arbor Connector is an excellent idea, however HOW it is implemented is truly critical. Is it a private sector led efficient "Rotating Art Gallery" kind of idea that costs the public taxpayers nothing and yields economic and societal benefits, or yet another Dreiseitl Huirinal, criminal encompassing Radius, Rog Mahal or Garage Mahal, road diets on major busy streets, subsidized street performer hand out program kind of idea? Is it to be a self-sustaining business operation or a government subsidized boondoggle? I'm not sure if the taxpayers are aware of what the current plan on the table that the Mayor supports for the Ann Arbor Connector is supposed to cost, but per the draft of the 2040 WATS Long Range Transportation Plan, the costs will be: "Ann Arbor 2015 Transit Connector Capital Investment $30,000,000. Ann Arbor, 2021-2025, build rail service "Signature Transit", along Plymouth Road and State St. Corridors from Earthart/Plymouth Road to State St./I-94 $205,000,000." Adding in $389.7 million for the tab for commuter rail operated through 2040 listed in the WATS plan and the $200 million signature transit project proposed in the WATS plan for Washtenaw Avenue, the grand total of this vision is $824.7 million. According to the WATS document, none of this is currently funded by existing taxes. Is the plan on the table to procure all these funds from new taxes? As the primary beneficiary, how much will U-M pay towards the capital and operating costs of the Ann Arbor Connector, or the Signature Transit for this transit corridor? The WATS document is at:


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 6:15 a.m.

Milton Shift - Please re-read Mr. Ranzini's post again and more carefully this time. The banker is against the expensive expenditures which will have to be borne by local tax payers and which will not produce value for the dollars.

Milton Shift

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:18 a.m.

Entirely unsurprising that a banker would be in favor of funneling public dollars to private businesses that bankers own and profit from.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 7:41 p.m.

Thanks, Stephen. IMHO, public transportation by bus, mini-bus, and van is a much more economical and flexible way to provide public transportation without taxing long time Ann Arborites (and newer ones, too) out of Ann Arbor. The way some of these programs are being presented makes me wonder if there is any influence from people who stand to make a lot of money if the more expensive and less effective plans are allowed to happen.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:14 a.m.

I wonder if any tax payer funds are being spent on these study components. Go figure!


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

This is a Car Country and God willing it will always be one. If you want to ride one of these loud dangerous things you can buy it for yourself I'm tired of paying for your bus already. If you can't afford a car GET A JOB!!! god bless

Nicholas Urfe

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

Didn't they spend over a million trying to force the AATA expansion on to communities that didn't even want it? And then they tried to keep the amount secret. What a huge waste of ann arbor taxpayer money.