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Posted on Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 6 a.m.

AATA master transit proposals range in cost from $120 million to $566 million, estimates say

By Tom Perkins

The three master transit plan scenarios proposed by the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority would range in cost from $120 million to $566 million, according to estimates released late last week.

On Wednesday, the AATA unveiled the three options, which seek to enhance the AATA system over the next 30 years and significantly improve countywide access.

The scenarios include a more basic option focusing on improving existing infrastructure. The second scenario would provide service to the county’s smaller population centers. The third option includes all the improvements in the first two, but also seeks to help steer “smart growth” and create dense development around major transportation lines.

AATA officials say their financial breakdowns are preliminary. They plan to further analyze costs and funding sources throughout the year.

The cost of each option including capital and operating expenses is:

  • $121 million for the “lifeline plus” scenario.
  • $129 million for the “accessible county” scenario.
  • $566 million for the “smart growth" scenario.

While the plans’ operating costs range from $73 million to $101 million, the net operating costs vary only slightly. The most basic option's estimated net operating cost is $48 million, while the "smart growth" plan is expected to cost $52 million annually.


Ann Arbor Transportation Authority officials are seeking public input on three master transit plan scenarios that would unfold over 30 years. file

Residents are invited to meet with AATA officials at a series of public forums in the next few weeks. AATA is currently funded by a 2-mill tax paid by Ann Arbor property owners.

Michael Benham, special assistant for strategic planning at the AATA, said officials aren’t pushing for any particular plan.

“These were created to offer different philosophical choices to public transit and give the community something to react to,” he said.

The most basic plan would require approximately $48 million in capital costs throughout the 30-year plan.

Roughly $28 million of those expenses is associated with providing more frequent routes and creating transit stations. Another $15 million is earmarked for cycling-related improvements, such as bike lanes, bike paths or bike lockers. An additional $600,000 is slated for an airport shuttle service and $5 million for transit hubs.

The middle "accessible county" option would require an estimated $51 million in capital expenses. Its cost breakdown is similar to that of the basic plan, but includes another $3 million for expenses associated with providing express routes to smaller population centers countywide. This plan's operating costs are estimated at $78 million, which is $5 million more than the basic plan, but it's expected to generate more revenue because fares on the express buses would be higher.

The “smart growth” option is estimated to require $465 million in capital costs over 30 years, but AATA officials say that estimate represents the high end. Approximately $282 million of that figure would come from high-capacity transit, and the proposed airport shuttle and commuter rail account for an additional $131.79 million.

Because rail service would be shared between counties, some of those costs would be absorbed by Wayne County, in the example of the Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter rail project, or Livingston County in the case of the WALLY rail project.

Roughly $30.55 million is earmarked for providing more routes, $5 million for transit hubs and $15 million for cycling costs.

The "smart growth" scenario’s operating costs are estimated at $101 million annually. All three scenarios also have an additional $27 million in base operating expenses, which is what the AATA pays today.

Benham said the AATA is also considering private funding, and cited the M-1 train along Woodward Avenue or Chicago’s Millennium Park as examples of large public projects that have received private interest.

“There’s a trend with major, major capital projects to get some private participation,” he said. “Those are the kind of things we’re going to be exploring and really making the funding sources a lot more specific.”

Officials offered a breakdown of expected funding sources for operational costs over the next 30 years based on their funding sources from 1994 to 2008. During that period, the AATA generated 14.4 percent of the funds needed to cover those expenses. On average, the federal government covered about 9.6 percent, state funds covered 38.9 percent and local tax dollars covered 38 percent.

An estimated 45 percent of each scenarios’ capital funding would come from the federal government, 16 percent from local taxes, and 13 percent from the state level. The system would generate 26 percent of its needed funds.

AATA officials estimate that for every dollar spent, the three scenarios would generate $2.70 to $3.20 in return, and the "smart growth" scenario would create an estimated 1,800 jobs. Their figures were developed by examining benefits such as job creation, reduced emissions and reduced road congestion, then using formulas specific to each area to monetize the benefit.

Benham acknowledged that some people are opposed to investing such a significant amount of money in public transportation. But he pointed to other major investments with similar price tags, such as Ford Field in Detroit, or a $413 million Michigan Department of Transportation proposal to add one lane to a stretch of U.S. 23 between Interstate 96 and M-14.

He said he also hears from people who don’t use public transportation and don't want to pay for it. He said even if residents don't ride the bus every day, they still receive benefits such as increased property value, less congestion on the road, outside investment in the community and more.

And, he added, “We’re all only one sprained ankle away from needing a bus for a few weeks.”

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 8:18 p.m.

The question is not so much "Can we afford to invest in mass transit?" The question is "Can we afford not to?" As it is, we invest millions in personal transportation--widening highways, repaving roads year after year--just to decrease the rate at which commute time is increasing, while at the same time making our air more toxic and pulling our communities farther apart. Both the individual costs of driving and the communal costs of maintaining roadways are increasing unsustainably, and the only solution is to invest in public transportation. The costs of these proposals are scary, but the costs of doing nothing are far, far scarier.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 12:44 a.m.

I think the AATA is to be commended for spending the effort to create various visions and options for public transportation. As a community, we need to discuss the topic. If you don't use public transportation in Ann Arbor (like myself) then the question is why not and what would it take to make one want to use it. Although public forums are being conducted, this will most likely capture input from the already captive audience who uses public transportation. In order for any proposal to be fiscally self-sustaining and encourage new users/riders, the AATA must identify and eliminate the barriers to using mass transit. For myself, I would need a reliable, clean, quiet, uncrowded, easily accessible system that would run every 15 minutes in peak time periods and not add more than 15 minutes to my daily commute. As ERMG notes, the price of gasoline will ultimately enter this equation in the future as well.

Vivienne Armentrout

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 12:32 a.m.

Readers should understand that this is part of a campaign for a countywide transit millage, leading to a regional (county) transit authority. I think this is fine if the &quot;out-county&quot; folks want to pay for it. But my priority is to retain our (not perfect but very welcome) in-city bus service. I think that the high-end scenario is a direct threat to this because it would use local dollars to subsidize between-cities rail service. The numbers just don't add up. We are talking millions of dollars. My blog post <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> is out of date but outlines some of the issues.


Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 4:30 a.m.

I'm pretty happy with the bus service in town, able to use the bus when I don't want to worry about finding a parking place. What I'd really like to see is some bus service to Detroit Metro Airport so I don't have to pay $55. If you are in Chicago, you can take the Blue Line and ride the train to O'Hare, ditto in New Jersey for Newark International, and in New York City, you can take the subway to LaGuardia and to Kennedy Airports. Pretty ridiculous that we have to take cabs to and from Detroit Metro. Even London extended the tube so you can ride to the airport. Maybe someday we'll have a train/bus connection to Metro or just a bus connection until the commuter rail gets up to speed.

Macabre Sunset

Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 2:21 a.m.

Look on the bright side. After they've raised taxes to support all of these social engineering changes for the hopelessly politically correct, they can use the empty buses to transport government cheese to those who have been taxed back into poverty.

Dog Guy

Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 12:40 a.m.

Forcing people out of their homes with confiscatory taxes is not the only benefit we get from AATA and similar programs. We get roads crowded with empty busses and rich administrators driving luxury imports.. Tax parasites, such as me, vote for each-other's sinecures and raises. Then we vote more millages for poverty programs which pay more of us to spread mayonnaise on those we have made poor and helpless. Life is wonderful when you are sucking on government teat.

Peter Baker

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 3:12 p.m.

Oh please, you just go ahead and keep on spewing the hyperbole while the rest of us try to run a society.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 11:18 p.m.

The idea of running tons of metal to Dexter to pick up and drop off 20 people (a trip) 8 times a day seems a bit silly. As other readers have stated, I just don't see the populations density to make the business case for the proposals.

Peter Baker

Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

Hmm, this seems like an argument FOR mass transit. If all 160 of those people drove back and forth, we're going to need a lot more parking garages.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 10:59 p.m.

Population density is the key. Boston, New York, and San Francisco all have the population density that makes their mass-transit systems viable. Ann Arbor just doesn't have that kind of population density.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 10:05 p.m.

I use a bike to travel to work year round, but use the bus when the roads are too bad to bike in the winter. I live in AA and consequently pay the millage. Right now the property owners in AA are subsidizing all bus traffic outside AA which allows residents of Ypsi, Dexter, and Chelsea to pay only a small portion of the cost of each ride when they ride to and from AA. I see the full transit plans, but these are all subsidized by AA property owners. Is there some plan to spread the costs to the outlying cities that would use the AATA?

Will Thinkaboutit

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 9:23 p.m.

The idea of AATA spending $500MM for the purposes described in the article for option three is pure fantasy land. This goes way beyond the scope of what AATA was designed for in the first place. Looking to the future for expanded rail and the costs associated with that in acquiring private land and an a very uncertain potential rider base is beyond the dollars being quoted. Option one and two are much more realistic in their scope.

Larry Kestenbaum

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.

Ann Arbor is pretty much the only city in Michigan that has a viable downtown. It's one of the reasons people like this place and want to move here and invest here. The city's investment in AATA is a big factor in the relative success of our downtown. Remember that while many shoppers may drive, many store and restaurant employees take the bus.


Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 5:31 a.m.

So Traverse City, East Lansing, Holly, Grayling, St Ignace, Escanaba, Stephenson, Menominee, Marquette and many other cities in the state don't count? All have downtowns that are easy to live, work and shop in. I could probably find a hundred more in the state. Yes, Detroit does not, nor does Canton. But lots of cities do.

Marc Williams

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 10:02 p.m.

While Portland, Oregon (my hometown) and its metropolitan area is much larger than Ann Arbor the people of Portland's commitment to mass transit (and other innovative urban planning such as the transit mall, complete streets, urban growth boundaries, preserving farmland, and ensuring land was set aside for public spaces) were key to keeping Portland alive and vibrant while so many cities fell on hard times.

Cheryl Jordan

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 8:35 p.m.

I would be happy if AATA would wash around their moldy windows on the buses ad it is disguising. I have called a couple of times to complain over the years and it never gets done. I wonder why that is?

charles mancherian

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

&quot;Increase property values?&quot; How do you figure that? Ridiculous! &quot;Less traffic congestion?&quot; Our traffic is quite manageable thanks to the bad economy. &quot;Outside investment?&quot; Give me a break. Investment in what? Bottom Line, we can live quite satisfactorily now and years from now without paying higher taxes for such lavish projects!

Marc Williams

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

That's simply not true. I will be looking to move into a house this summer when my lease it up. Because I take the bus (packed every morning and evening) and I want a home near a bus line. (and I'm not the only one) Our traffic is manageable now, but shortsighted thinking gets us in trouble over and over again. Better to take the long view and plan for growth because things only get harder to build and more expensive as time goes by and population rises. Both corporations and entrepreneurs like to place their businesses in locations with amenities. The right mix of population, transportation, education, and innovation. Would you have considered Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System lavish when it was proposed?


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

Interesting articles for those who believe mass transit is good for the environment <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> I assume we can have some real scientific debate on this subject. Mass transit to me is all about convenience. I use BART in the bay area. I use the Toronto subway to get around in Toronto, I use the Metro in D.C.. I am willing to pay for this convenience. I wouldn't use it in Ann Arbor.

average joe

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

&quot;AATA officials estimate that for every dollar spent, the three scenarios would generate $2.70 to $3.20 in return,....&quot; Key word being estimate, there is one question that isn't answered- Who gets to keep that $2.70-$3.20 in return? Since their own history shows that they only cover $1 of every $7 spent (Riders pay only 14% of AATA costs) , then they must have some very clever accountants to help support these proposals.

Ethics Advocate

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 5:32 p.m.

I think it is absolutely critical that no new AATA project get under way until there definitely are proven funding sources OTHER THAN increasing our AA property taxes. I doubt that the citizens would vote for an even higher AATA property tax; I believe that the federal and possibly state funding will be reduced; and I question the financial attraction to private investors. I also wonder how many other cities have only ONE-SEVENTH of their public transportation services funded by the passengers who use them.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

I think the line: "We're all only one sprained ankle away from needing a bus for a few weeks." is seriously odd and has no bearing on proposed budgets strategies. First, if I had a sprained ankle, why would I hobble to my nearest, slippery bus stop in all this snow and ice, wait a half hour in subzero temps, and then stumble onto a bus only to have to walk 3-4 blocks to work? Buses in A2 are for the young.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

That goodness we have such smart people at AATA because I do not understand how they can stay in business? Obviously, they do not serve their customers (Taxpayers) because if they did they would come closer to breaking even. I guess the saving grace about the AATA is that they are saving the planet from the evils of the automobile!

Marc Williams

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

That's not how it works. We the people elected other people to make decisions on our behalf. At one point a bunch of people asked for public transportation, and, because it was a good idea the elected officials created a transit system for the public good. A public good is something that improves the lives of everyone either directly or indirectly whether they realize it or not. The roads are a public good as well and even though we pay taxes and fees to maintain them we still don't bring in nearly enough to do the job. The federal government sends us money to help maintain our roads as well and it still isn't enough. Our roads simply aren't paying for themselves. Should we increase taxes to maintain the roads? Or charge tolls? Or how about what London does and charge a fee for driving into the city? We could also return paved rural roads to gravel or dirt. Not many people use them. Maybe we could increase mass transit, reducing the number of cars on the road, resulting in less wear on the roads. It's all a matter of where your priorities are.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

Couldn't we at least first fix the Stadium Bridge?

mike from saline

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

Let's rob Peter to pay for Pauls ride? Could you just leave me out of this?


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

Bus riders are tired of subsidizing drivers with all of our tax dollars for road construction and maintenance. Drivers should be falling on your knees and kissing the feet of us bus-riders for taking our cars off the road, so you can get home faster and find a parking spot more easily.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

what roads do your buses ride on? We both &quot;subsidize&quot; each other. The difference is, I subsidize more of your bus ride than you do my car ride.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

stunhsif wrote: &quot;I never use public transit. &quot; Guess, then, that you never use the public roadways? Or any of the airports in the region? You must walk and or bike to work? But, even then, unless you're going cross-couintry, you're using &quot;public transit.&quot; They are &quot;public transit&quot; supported by taxpayer dollars. Watch the price of glass climb as instability in Tunisia and in Egypt spreads to the Persian Gulf States--$5 gallon gasoline is just around the corner. At some point in the not-too-distant future people will be demanding the kind of mass transit system the AATA is envisioning. Invest now so that we have it when the time comes or invest when the time comes and years behind the power curve. And, rest assured, if it is the latter, the same nattering nabobs of negativism who are now shooting down the development of a modern mass transit system will be the first to complain that the inefficient government did not adequately prepare for the future. Good Night and Good Luck

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

George, That might be what you want, and it is, indeed, what I want. But that is not what the NNsN above are complaining about. They don't want it--period. Good Night and Good Luck

G. Orwell

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 3:04 p.m.

I don't think people are opposed to public transit. Even those that do not use it. Most of us want a reasonable level without waste and bloated budgets.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 2:27 p.m.

&quot;The &quot;smart growth&quot; scenario's operating costs are estimated at $101 million annually.&quot; The current population of Washtenaw County is ~350,000. This means that to generate just enough revenue to cover costs, each man, woman, and child living in the county would need to spend ~$300 per year for using the AATA. The odds of this happening are about the same as the odds of Osama bin Laden's being elected he next pope. It is time to sue the AATA to stop them from moving ahead with this plan which will bankrupt us all.

Christopher LeClair

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 2:18 p.m.

Public transit is vital for keeping this area a livable place. One of the major reasons I've stayed in the area is the wonderful public transit provided by the University and the AATA (and taxpayers!) With the largest plan, it would really help bring more people in the county to Ann Arbor which in turn helps local businesses and the economy as a whole. The couple dollars it takes to subsidize their ride is easily recouped if they purchase even one item in AA. Odds are, they will.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:46 p.m.

Actually for those of you who ask why you should pay for something you don't use. Well, our tax money subsidizes the oil companies that provide your gas, tax money goes for upkeep of the roads damaged your driving, salting the roads...etc and society as a whole is paying for the added pollution your vehicle emits. And for all the benefits of our &quot;jump in your car&quot; society we still don't have an efficient way to get to places like the airport, Lansing and downtown Detroit. Maybe its time for a new line of thinking.... I'm just sayin

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

&quot;Let's remember that road maintenance, plowing, salting etc. is funded largely by fuel taxes, not general revenues. In other words, user pays.&quot; This is true ONLY for passenger vehicles. Go the the Michigan vehicle code and see what trucks pay and, though they cause by far most of the damage to our highways, they pay far less per pound EMPTY (much less if they are full) than do passenger vehicles. Moreover, the choice to fund highways with with gas tax dollars is, in the end, a choice. We chose decades ago to have a transportation system whose centerpiece was the single-passenger automobile. That choice no longer appears to be a viable one, and the longer we wait to move toward a more integrated transportation system, the more painful and costly that move will be when it happens. And it will happen. It is only a question of WHEN it happens. Good Night and Good Luck

Steve Hendel

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 3:04 p.m.

Let's remember that road maintenance, plowing, salting etc. is funded largely by fuel taxes, not general revenues. In other words, user pays.

average joe

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

The problem is that the cost of the AATA isn't even coming close to being self-funding. The taxpayers are actually funding 86% of the cost to keep these buses running.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

Oh, I agree with you regarding the deconstruction of the US highways in and around urban areas in order to make them more attractive. However, Ann Arbor, is barely a city and most of A2 belongs to a state run agency (UM), so adopting and paying for a larger AATA is really misguided because the ROI just isn't there. I would like nothing more than more bike lanes and safer areas for running, but this is also just a pipe dream in this city.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:40 p.m.

The bigger story here is the proposed US 23 widening. Why hasn't this been reported on yet? Mr. Perkins, can we get some more information or perhaps an article on the MDOT proposal? It's about time something was done about that mess.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

Most recent estimate: Nearly $600 million to widen from US-12 to I-96. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> $600 million to spend on a transportation system that reflects neither current realities nor future needs. Talk about a bad investment!


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

All of these proposals are obscene in the amount of monies they require. Unless, any of these plans include electric buses or a new (gold plated) trolley system, I'm afraid none of this strategic plans should move forward. According to the latest figures regarding ridership, it would be well until the next century that costs would be recouped. AATA is a losing horse, so why continue to bid on it? Maintain the system at the current budget and hope for no major emergencies and an increase in ridership.

average joe

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

Based on AATA history- the costs will NEVER be re-couped.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:33 p.m.

Show us the pro forma P&amp;L that supports the capital outlay NOT &quot;revenue generated&quot; pixie dust. This is yet another boondogle that the statist want to saddle us with.

G. Orwell

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

If a large number of people in AA and WC had no other option to commute, I'd say go with the cheap option. Or, something that is bare bones. But, residents do have legs, bikes, and cars. I don't get why we have to spend so much money beyond what is needed. Why are we building a 677 lot parking structure under the library lot if we want more people to take the bus and train? Also, what is with this &quot;smart growth? Do we really need it? Particularly since everything associated with it seems to cost money. We've done just fine without it for hundreds of years.

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

I own a very modest 1400 square foot home in SE Ann Arbor. Last year I paid $157 for &quot;Mass Transit&quot;(which curiously used to be labeled AATA) I haven't used since 1978. I don't mind chipping in that, but thats my limit. The federal Government is worse than broke. Broke would be an improvement. They (we) can't afford it. The State Government battles every year just to be broke as we can't run a deficit. Local Government isn't any better as they slash services to make ends meet. AATA's job is to run the bus down the road not social engineering.

Bruce Amrine

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

This is not about today but, rather, what we want our region to look like in 30 to 50 years. A 21st century system of public transit will be needed if we're serious about continued growth and prosperity. The autocentric society that we have built in the last century is not sustainable in the future. For little more than the cost of adding one lane to US23, which only aggravates the urban sprawl phenomenon, we could have a first-rate transportation alternative.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

Article states: &quot;He said he also hears from people who don't use public transportation and don't want to pay for it. He said even if residents don't ride the bus every day, they still receive benefits such as increased property value, less congestion on the road, outside investment in the community and more. And, he added, "We're all only one sprained ankle away from needing a bus for a few weeks." I never use public transit. My suggestion is have those that use it pay for it by raising the cost of the rides to cover the actual costs. No one pays my car payment except me. Don't make me pay for someone's bus or train ride. As well, if I get a sprained ankle is Benham telling me that I can call up AATA and they are going to drive out to my house in the middle of York Twp and pick me up ?


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

I'm tired of subsidizing your single-user car, suburban lifestyle with all of the taxes I spend on the miles of SUBSIDIZED roadway you need to drive in to work from your secluded outpost. I'm sick of subsidizing your car use through increased insurance premiums and police and paramedics due to the millions of car accidents each year. I (along with businesses) am tired of subsidizing the parking that your vehicle needs to get anywhere. And... aren't you sick and tired of &quot;subsidizing&quot; your own costs for car payments, gas and insurance? It's time to think about &quot;transit&quot; and &quot;subsidies&quot; a little differently.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:28 p.m.

Stunhsif, we all pay for things that we don't use, and don't get any direct benefits from. I for one don't have kids, nor did I go to public school myself, so why should I pay for schools? It's called the public good - something bigger than our individual needs.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

Thank you for the detailed analysis Tom. It's very helpful to see the numbers. Am I right in this summation regarding the annual burden on the tax payers: Current Plan - $27 Million &quot;Lifeline Plus&quot; - $48 Million &quot;Accessible County&quot; - $52 Million &quot;Smart Growth&quot; - $101 Million Tom - Could you check these numbers to make sure that I've summarized them correctly? For me, personally, while I'm intimated by some of the large capital investments, I understand that these activities can be funded in different ways. More concerning to me are the large increases in yearly operating budget that would be need to be perpetually covered by the tax payers. For me, all of these numbers are WAY too large. Braggslaw - As a variant to your plan, we could actually by roughly 25,000 public transit taxis that people could ride for free or for a discount.

arrow saarinen

Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.

Come on folks, where are you going to put your 25,000 taxis? On the same roadway system we now have? We don't need a new &quot;Los Angeles&quot; in the midwest. We need to move more people, more conveniently, faster and more efficiently.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

Another pipe dream brought to you by creative government accountants. On top of that the public is tapped out financially. If it can't support itself and be profitable then they have a problem on their hands. Lots of ideas out there but no money to pay for them and people aren't going to pay higher taxes to support them.

Macabre Sunset

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

You give a bureaucrat the power to spend tax money without restraint, and he will find a way to waste millions. AATA needs to be run like a business. No responsible business owner would even bring up the WALLY boondoggle, just to name the most financially egregious of the ideas presented.

average joe

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.

&quot;....based on their funding sources from 1994 to 2008. During that period, the AATA generated 14.4 percent of the funds needed to cover those expenses. On average, the federal government covered about 9.6 percent, state funds covered 38.9 percent and local tax dollars covered 38 percent.&quot; I'd like to know what business can continue to operate when their income is only 14 % of their expenses. It's not even close! I wonder if their income has even covered the fuel costs. By comparison, I'd like the federal, state, &amp; local governments to cover 86% of the cost of me owning a car.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 11:57 a.m.

&quot;AATA officials estimate that for every dollar spent, the three scenarios would generate $2.70 to $3.20 in return, and the &quot;smart growth&quot; scenario would create an estimated 1,800 jobs.&quot; They seriously don't get it. Those 1800 jobs mentioned are additional PUBLIC sector jobs paid for by the PRIVATE sector. These are more straws added to the camel's back. And, the additional revenue? What kind of blind fools do they take us for? Public transit making a profit? I would dearly like to see the creative accounting that produced those numbers. Folks, the camel's nose is in the tent, and now it's trying to shove itself the rest of the way in.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 11:22 a.m.

I have nothing against public transit but for 500 million I could buy 50,000 people a nice 10,000 $ sub-compact. Do 50,000 people really ride the bus? I bet there are fewer than 25,000 consistent riders. (if not dramatically less) Let's say we buy 25,000 people $10,000 cars and give each $10,000 dollars for maintenance, insurance and gas for a lifetime. You really have to examine the numbers and determine whether this makes any financial sense.

arrow saarinen

Tue, Feb 1, 2011 : 9:32 p.m.

Where do you plan to put your 25,000 new cars? You just don't get it, we need to move more people with less cars, less parking lots, less polution, etc..... come on, figure it out.

Marc Williams

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 9:24 p.m.

You sure do. And your numbers don't make any sense. Where in your budget do you include increased cost of upgrading and maintaining infrastructure? More cars on the road requires better roads and more parking. More cars on the roads reduces livability, increases pollution, and accidents would, of course, rise. I switched to taking the bus last September. I pick up the 2A/2B around 7 am and the same in the evening around 5:15. Most of the time the buses are packed during these peak periods. Not only that but I have saved roughly $1500/month in gas, insurance, and basic maintenance and I'm not stressed from driving. Craig Lounsbury said he paid $157 last year for mass transit. Even if a monthly bus pass increased to $157/month it would still cost less than driving my car. Mass transit is a wise investment. We make some things a public good because they are good for our community and our society. Not everything we do should be driven by profit.

Christopher LeClair

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 2:13 p.m.

I must say, that is a brilliant idea. The best solution for this overcrowded city is to add another 25,000 cars to the roads. You've sold me on the idea! I could have an extra hour to finish my book during rush hour traffic.