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Posted on Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Ann Arbor replaces three bus routes for high schoolers with AATA service for fall

By Danielle Arndt

Ann Arbor Public Schools is partnering with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to eliminate three high school bus runs for the upcoming school year and replace them with public transit routes.

One run from each of the comprehensive high schools, Huron, Pioneer and Skyline, will be cut. The drivers and buses on those routes will remain employed and will still operate their elementary runs, said district spokeswoman Liz Margolis.


Riders wait to board buses at the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's Blake Transit Center in downtown Ann Arbor. TheRide will replace three bus runs for Ann Arbor schools come fall.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The average cost of a bus run for the Ann Arbor Public Schools is about $15,000 per year, so eliminating the three high school runs could save AAPS up to $45,000 annually. The district currently contracts with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District for transportation.

There will be some cost to the district. Students that will be served by the AATA routes will receive a bus pass paid for by AAPS. The passes will be valid on TheRide’s regular direct route service, Monday through Friday, during the academic year.

The fare AAPS will pay for these three runs will be discounted, 50 cents per ride compared to the regular 75 cents per ride for students on AATA buses. However, a transfer will count as two rides because the students would be required to swipe the AAPS-sanctioned passes twice.

Ann Arbor Superintendent Patricia Green said in a statement that the partnership will allow the district to redirect thousands of dollars per year back into the classrooms.

“And not only will we save costs, but it also brings more options for high school students with at least two morning trips available to school and multiple afternoon trips that these students can access for their rides home,” Green said.

Increasing transportation efficiencies and reducing transportation costs have been hot topics among Ann Arbor school board members this past school year as they weighed cuts to balance the budget. The board urged the school administration to reach out to AATA as the organization is expanding to see how the district may be able to benefit from the additional services as well.

At a school board meeting in May, when talks about the three possible AATA bus routes for high schoolers surfaced, Trustee Simone Lightfoot expressed disappointment that transferring the three runs was the best the district and the transit authority could do.

Mary Stasiak, spokeswoman for AATA, said Tuesday it is important for the board to note that AATA is “a good option, but it is only one of the options for solving this problem of transportation for the public schools.”

The public transit system has provided some seventh-hour busing to the high schools for many years, so it is not unusual for students to use TheRide to get to or from school, Stasiak added.

Right now, picking up the three runs is all AATA can do that is within reason, she said.

“If we have to make major alterations to routes, we have to survey our riders, notify our riders… this was something that we could easily make just a few adjustments for. It didn’t take a lot of reworking.”

TheRide chief executive officer Michael Ford said the AAPS partnership is “one more example of TheRide’s commitment to providing relevant and efficient services in Ann Arbor and continuing to be responsive to the needs of our entire community.”

AATA also intends to have a voice in a new administrative working group on transportation that the district is forming to discuss, analyze and come up with a plan for the future of transportation and Ann Arbor schools.

The three affected bus runs are:

  • At Huron, route 84, which served students in the Earhart Road, Glazier Way, and Green Road area.
  • At Pioneer, route 88, which served students in the Oak Valley Drive, Waters Road area.
  • At Skyline, route 48, which operated on Miller Road between First and Maple.

Download a service FAQ sheet from AAPS to learn more about the routes that will be replaced..

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 10:36 p.m.

Speaking of AAPS, buses and saving money - Can anyone explain why at AAPS bus was in Manchester yesterday afternoon around 4PM and why a full size bus was sent to deal with 4 or 5 people that were on the bus? Excellent use of school funds I suspect.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

first +maple?

Rod Johnson

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 10:37 p.m.

Dude. *Between* First and Maple.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:33 p.m.

DonBee likes to say that "No administrators were harmed with the creation of the AAPS budget" and he's right. What about children? Will they be harmed in some of these 'savings' in the AAPS budget? I'm concerned that using AATA for high school students could potentially be a safety issue. Remember the 2010 incident where 2 high school age girls, 14 and 15, met two 25-year-old men on an Ann Arbor Transportation Authority bus early in the week. By Thursday, one girl reported she had been sexually assaulted by at least one of the men, and the 14-year-old girl was missing. article: There need to be safeguards in place on the AATA buses to keep our children safe, before the school year begins. First and foremost, AAPS must provide a safe atmosphere for its students, including transportation. While, "increasing transportation efficiencies and reducing transportation costs have been hot topics among Ann Arbor school board members this past school year as they weighed cuts to balance the budget" let's not lose sight of the safety factor.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

High school kids should not have to have baby sitters to make sure they behave on the way to school! If they misbehave ban them from the bus and let their parents deal with them. It's called parenting!


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

Might some parents coordinate and volunteer to ride along for safety? AAPS could wrangle them some passes. Maybe some retired folks.

Angry Moderate

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

AATA buses have security cameras. I don't think AAPS buses even have that, and bad things can happen on schools buses too.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

Time to quit nickle and diming the students and parents. How about taking a cue from Detroit and cutting the largest expense - salaries. A 10% cut to salaries (administrative and teachers...) is needed. There are plenty of qualified, capable individuals willing to work at that wage rate. It is unfortunate, but the schools are not built for the sake of the educators - it is for the students and people paying the bills. Everything else is just trying to irritate parents and publicize the issue in order to get a millage passed.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:55 p.m.

This is what I have been saying for months. Close Clemente and you won't need to bus children out there. Use Stone School. Cut the Balais budget. Not everyone else. Could not agree more with this post.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

While I love complaining about AAPS as much as the next person, this isn't a completely horrible idea. It saves some money - there won't be transfers on the Pioneer route, for example, and students participating in after-school activities still get to take a bus home. Plus kids get to cross at the light instead of at some random spot on Waters, although drivers at that intersection constantly ignore pedestrians, especially in the morning with the sun in their eyes. I don't love the thought of kids walking down the south side of Waters in the morning - the sidewalk is too close to the road and drivers coming east on Waters drive way too fast for that stretch of road - often over 50mph.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

If you can get an AATA driver down that road in icy conditions. Yes Chris, with the increase in ridership? The AATA will be late all the time because they may have to stop at every stop to let on X number of children every time. Can't wait to see how late everyone will be in September. So glad mine is going to be driving sooner rather then later. We have to drop ours off at the transit because the bus near our home? Is always late due to high volume ridership. Otherwise, yes, I agree, late again. They do count the tardies.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

A quick look at the bus schedule shows that the bus arrives at Pioneer two minutes before classes start, meaning kids will either be 25 minutes early or 5 minutes late every day. I hope they tweak the schedule by 10 minutes before school resumes.

Dog Guy

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 1:14 p.m.

This is so mean! AAPS is invading and destroying the quiet and solitude of AATA drivers.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

Hope you like their music and tone of voice. Otherwise, got an I Pod? Going to need it.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

This is idiotic and relatively worthless to fixing the budget shortfall. It looks like a great way to inconvenience a lot of people to save about 0.3% of the budget shortfall. I wonder who will be riding on the public bus with the high school kids? I'm sure that our quarter million dollar leader will also be riding the AATA bus each day to work to show how minimal the effect is on a person's life. Administrators are quick to accept and suggest raises for other administrators that are equal to the total perceived savings for this ridiculous change.

Sue Allen

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 12:10 p.m.

Transportation in the city of Detroit is different than the city of Ann Arbor. Schools are spread out more and not as convenient. AATA would be against this idea because they would have more troubles with the student as they will feel they have less control over discipline. Students will have more opportunity to skip and more opportunity to hide because AATA will have less personal relationships with each student. This whole solution is more of a benefit to WISD. Sure they save more money but then the cost once again goes on the parent. Drivers for the schools will lose their jobs because they will not get enough hours to make it worth their time to work for the schools hence less drivers AGAIN. So yes school buses are necessary for our schools. And as for more money savings to put back into the classrooms???? Not really because their or far more classrooms then their are busses to I think the savings to maybe buy PENCILS would be better off paid for by the parents and keep the bussing of our children going. Guess the people who want this to happen don't care about the pedophiles who will start watching the public transportation because they will have more opportunities. Hmmmm so for the WISD this is a win but once again for the students and parents it is a LOSS.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:47 p.m.

Susan? You have nailed it right on the head. A friend of mine had her child accosted on an AATA and yes the police are seriously looking into this. Yes, there are perps on AATA. Mine now carries mace and has since I was told about this incident. AA News? You can email me about this, but I am sure I am not at liberty to speak since I am not sure if it is suppose to leak. So, be forewarned, yes, there are perps watching your children, but not at an alarming rate mentioned here. As for drivers loosing their jobs? No. Just driving at reduced hours. From what I am seeing here, AAPS is hoping Ann Arbor denizens won't mind having their taxes go up so the children can use public transportation to get to and from school. Yes, there are problems on the bus and I agree, does an AATA driver really want to deal with this? I don't think so either.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 1:46 p.m.

I am all for using the AATA as extensively as possible. To address just a couple of Susan's concerns - a student will skip, if they want to. As a high schooler in AA, I often left school and took the AATA and the University buses wherever I wanted. And they were not then the assigned school transportation. So AATA taking over some of the transportation routes will not cause students to skip; they already can. As for the pedophiles, while it sounds alarming, there is some basis in reality for CONCERN. General personal safety is just something children have to be conscious of any time, but yes, particularly while riding the buses. I can tell you that I was very happy when the bus designs included windows that increased visibility. There were many times as a girl that I was harassed and/or groped, and had to change seats. Young people are just in general less confident and more self conscious, making them more vulnerable to being targeted, especially if they are alone. More high school ridership should help to lessen that problem of vulnerability.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

Pedophiles? Really? I thought my friend who wouldn't let her 17 year old son walk to school was off her rocker, but now I see there is prevailing sense of fear about things that are, for the most part, outside the realm of possibility.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 11:56 a.m.

Most school buses are designed to hold 40 to 60 students. Assume that the buses run half full and those students will take "The Ride". With 178 school days in a year - and say 30 students riding the ride with a transfer on each trip, then the cost is $60 a day (2 times $0.50 times two directions times 30 students) - or $10,680 per year - a net savings of $4,320. So elimination of the 3 routes saves AAPS about 10% of what one Principal costs the district or about 7% of what one of the superintendent's cabinet members costs the district. Elimination of 30 bus routes under this system will pay for 1 princpal or the elimination of 42 bus routes will pay for one Balas administrator. No administrators were harmed with the creation of the AAPS budget.


Tue, Jul 3, 2012 : 4:30 a.m.

And Michigan just bumped up the amount of money school districts can borrow from the state to meet their unfunded obligations for those inflated administrative salaries. Remember, "it's all about the kids".


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

* $245,000


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 3 p.m.

Also, a special shout-out to Deb Mexicotte for the bump in the superintendent's salary to $245,00. When will we look to Balas for cuts?


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:57 p.m.

No administrators were harmed with the creation of the AAPS budget. Great disclaimer, DonBee. Certainly not, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Legal Services, Dave Comsa, and Deputy Superintendent of Operations, Robert Allen. Their salaries were bumped up to $140,000 each. Comsa's pay was hiked 14.7 percent and Allen scored a 7.2 percent raise.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 11:48 a.m.

Are school buses necessary? When I was in Detroit Public Schools, I never rode a school bus, always the city bus. On field trips, DPS contracted with the city. I had to pay full fare so Ann Arbor parents should be thankful their kids are getting a discount.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

Don Bee, that simply is not true. When I lived in Detroit, my neighborhood schools at the middle and high school level were both more than a mile away from my home and no provisions were made for anyone to ride a school bus. Anyone who went to a magnet school was on their own as well. Like hermhawk, I rode city buses to school. And I don't recall the school system paying for the bus fare either. Ann Arborites don't always know how lucky they are.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 12:06 p.m.

Hermhawk - Twenty years ago the DPS system had schools within 1 mile of every student at all levels. So no student - had to walk more than 1 mile. Today in AAPS - some of the students live more than 10 miles from the school they are assigned too. If you want to understand how far a student would have to walk to school, take a trip out to the old 1 room school at the corner of Gotfredsen and Plymouth-Ann Arbor Road (yes the district goes that far). Now take the walk to Huron High School (where students from this area are assigned). That is a 10 mile walk - in a car on Plymouth Road, Google says it is a 21 minute drive - running at Army speed - 6 minute miles - the time is an hour - at reasonable walking speed about 90 minutes. Contrary to a lot of thinking in Ann Arbor, the AAPS district covers a large area of rural and semi-rural areas. It is not an Urban district like DPS. School starts and ends in the dark in December - think about children (14 to 16 mostly) walking 90 minutes each way in the dark. Just last week a very experienced bicyclist was killed locally - do you think that 14&15 year olds will be as experienced? In the dark?


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 11:36 a.m.

jns131, I'm interested in your perspective. Definitely glad parents were notified before it hit the news, so it sounds like the district is on top of the 'communication' piece, which can sometimes cause the biggest problems with any new plans. It sounds like you don't think this is a good plan, but I didn't get a sense of the basis for your concerns. We know (and have know, for quite a while) that the district is in a period where cuts are necessary, due to state funding limitations--this is simply a fact and while I don't like it, I'm glad to see some leadership working on cuts that are as far from the classroom as possible. I was thinking that going with AATA seems like a wise direction for the district, for high school riders. Teenagers ride public transportation in so many cities, and many Ann Arbor kids have already been finding their way to school either in their own cars or those driven by friends. I'd personally rather have my kid on the city bus than driving themselves, for a number of reasons. Any kids that can drive themselves probably already do, rather than take the school bus, and some might be interested in the AATA since go-home options are increased--stay after for athletics or clubs and you can catch the bus whenever you need it. One Saturday and Sunday, you'd be on your own just like if the yellow bus took you to school M-F, but weekends are not the district's focus. As long as AAPS is outsourcing, it seems like a great idea to partner with AATA, maybe for all high school routes. I'd be interested to hear why AATA would be against this. It seems like expanding their system and having a stable, ongoing source of ridership would be great for them. The public should be pleased, too, because of the expanded routes. I'm not sure if it would actually cost taxpayers more, but building up the public transportation system is not a bad use of tax or riders' money, in the opinion of many Ann Arborites . Ms. Arndt, can you shed any light on this?


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:31 p.m.

Buzz? If you take a look at the other articles on AATA expanding you will see a whole host of anti AATA people who are totally against the expanse of AATA in their neighborhoods or going out further then they dare to go to get riders. But for all intense purposes, the bottom line is the tax payer who has to foot the bill for ridership. Not AAPS. All AATA is doing is making accommodations for AAPS. If you reread the article they said they would have to look into whether or not it is feasible for them to expand and see if they can redo the route and if ridership is at a level to warrant this. I hate to say, the ones who do not do AATA? Are going to scream if they as tax payers are going to have to foot the bill because AAPS does not have the money to pick up school children on a big yellow bus. Massachusetts makes parents pay $500 a year, with additional money for additional children to get to and from school in a school bus. Can't wait to see this one on a ballot in November. Ann Arbor denizens are going to vote no. My child does ride the AATA to and from school every single day. Has for over 2 years. 1 hour a day there and back. Can't wait until she starts driving. Then she can sleep in and not have to worry about missing anything. Good luck with this one.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 10:42 a.m.

As a parent of AAPS I got an email on this 2 weeks ago. Nothing new here. What is going to cost the student is the fact that they are not going to save any money at all. From the sounds of it, they still have to pay either AAPS for the ride or pay AATA. Either way, if you get a bus pass for $29 you can ride Monday thru Sunday without restrictions. If the student needs a bus ride they are going to pay for it on Saturday and Sunday. No big deal if you have a ride getting you hither and yon. As for bus drivers loosing their jobs? No. They won't. They won't get the hours they would have had had they had that run with the hours on it. WISD is not really saving anyone any money. If they think this money will trickle back to classroom? Uh huh. Maybe 10% of it will. In one year there will be no more bus runs at the hi school and at the going rate, no after school anything in 2 years. AAPS has really made a downhill run to being just another school with a pretty face. I hate to say it, but you will see a huge increase in drivers to and from school. Can't wait to see the fall out in September. As for ridership? AATA has been against this from the get go. It will cost tax payers more money in the long run and the tax payer is not going to like this at all.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Saved on busing costs to the classroom? They have administration fees first then the money ends up in the classroom. I really don't see the savings except in the BOE, Balais and Administration costs. Then maybe I see something in the classroom. Its called a hand out. What a nightmare AAPS has created.

Robert Granville

Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 2:34 p.m.

You know things can seem really bleak when you make up the details as you go along.


Mon, Jul 2, 2012 : 12:12 p.m.

I have to agree with buzz. Glad to see that the AAPS is communicating with the parents. This proposal seems like a reasonable and intelligent place to cut spending for the AAPS. This article is about AAPS cutting spending, not WISD. I think that you will not see a difference in students who drive to school because of this plan. Most kids would rather ride the AATA than the big yellow bus and the kids that drive will drive no matter which bus is available. I'm not sure where your "10% back to the classroom" figure comes from, but it doesn't appear to be based on facts. The money saved from busing cost won't have to be taken from classroom budgets.