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Posted on Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor City Council should postpone vote on 4-party transit agreement indefinitely

By Vivienne Armentrout

The Ann Arbor City Council is scheduled to take up the 4-party agreement again on Monday. This will commit Ann Arbor to turning over control of AATA’s assets to a new transit authority (NTA), operating under a new set of rules. It will also commit Ann Arbor’s transportation millage (about $9 million currently) to the NTA.

Although there are a number of conditions that must be satisfied before this happens, the agreement is a real legal document, not a “framework” as it has sometimes been described.

The council should postpone this action indefinitely. Here’s why.


Vivienne Armentrout is a former Washtenaw County commissioner.

1. Ann Arbor is poorly represented in the planning. A temporary “u196” group consisting of volunteers from county communities has only 2 Ann Arbor members. The AATA does not have oversight of the plans, though staff are working on them. Yet Ann Arbor taxpayers will be paying for at least 2/3 of the local tax to support the new Transit Master Plan.

2. We don’t know where the rest of the money is coming from. A Financial Task Force meeting has been postponed but their packet shows that $6.5 million new local tax per year (average) will be needed after Federal and State support. The figures suggest that an additional 0.5 mill tax countywide will pay for this. A fare increase across the board of $.50 per ride is included in this plan. See for details. The Financial Task Force needs to be given time to complete its work so that we understand the real cost to our bus riders, as well as our taxpayers.

3. We don’t know what other Washtenaw County communities will join us in the “countywide” NTA. Some communities have already declined, and most others have only agreed to join the discussion, not to commit to a tax liability. (Mysteriously, the AATA has not released the results of a survey done last fall.) Though the u196 board was supposed to be based on signed agreements (Act 7), most communities have not actually formalized these agreements. See for a full explanation. The AATA leadership claimed that the agreements were in place, which brings into question how many other procedural irregularities exist. But more importantly, we need full participation across the county both to collect new revenue and to offer the comprehensive service that has been promised.

4. We won’t know the shape of the NTA until the Articles of Incorporation (AOI) are finalized. The AOI, which must be passed by the county Board of Commissioners, needs a broader discussion. It will actually define the operation and powers of the NTA, so the 4-party agreement implicitly binds us to it. Once formed, under Act 196 the NTA will have many powers, including borrowing money for capital projects, entering into private investment agreements, and any legal form of taxation. (These are actually proposed in the financial plan for the TMP.) Council wisely inserted a provision that they must separately approve the AOI, but this should be done in parallel with the 4-party agreement, not after we are committed.

5. Most of all, we need to find out how the new package of transportation bills that were introduced in the state Legislature last week affect the entire public transit picture for Washtenaw County. Will our county’s transit system simply be a contractor to a new Regional Transit Authority? Will we still be able to obtain Federal and State funding with an independent authority? Will there be new revenue (a vehicle registration fee)? There is much speculation and guesswork involved, and it is foolhardy to begin a separate independent process now without this crucial piece of the picture.

We have been promised many wonderful things with the new transit plan, including much improved service for Ann Arbor and its immediate surroundings. But we need to understand how those assurances can be guaranteed before Council launches us on this major transformation of our transit system. Even assuming that the NTA wishes to put a millage on the November ballot, there are months before a decision is necessary. (August is the deadline.)

Vivienne Armentrout has been active in local issues and politics since arriving in Ann Arbor in 1986. She served for 8 years as a Washtenaw County commissioner and has worked as a freelance editor and writer. You may read her blog, Local In Ann Arbor, at



Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

This Michael Ford character needs to get the boot, too. All the more reason to boot the Hieftje - his defeat is the key to collapsing this whole house of cards he has crafted over the past ten years. All his appointees need to vanish like the thieves in the night they are.

Mary Stasiak-TheRide

Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 10:25 p.m.

New information relative to this opinion article has been posted at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. Please continue to check this site as the process moves along.

Kai Petainen

Wed, Feb 8, 2012 : 4:02 a.m.

it's nice to see that they made a response to this article.... i'm not saying what they say is good/bad, but it is nice that they took the time to respond. <a href=""></a>

Rob T

Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 3:29 a.m.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding of the four-party transit agreement is that the new countywide agency would receive the current Ann Arbor millage only if the countywide transit agency was fully funded. Though the agreement doesn't explicitly define what the funding mechanism might be, it seems by all accounts 95% likely that to be fully funded the agency will propose a one-mil property tax that will require voter approval--effectively, a referendum on countywide transit.

Vivienne Armentrout

Mon, Feb 6, 2012 : 1:32 p.m.

No, the language is not &quot;fully funded&quot; but merely that a successful vote will be held. That language was changed from &quot;county-wide&quot; to &quot;authority-wide&quot; - excluding units of the county that opt out. Ann Arbor's council has amended this to indicate that a vote must receive a majority inside the city of Ann Arbor, as well as across the authority. The recent packet for the Financial Task Force (not acted on) recommends a 0.5 mill tax (not a 1-mill tax) and a 50 cents fare increase (even for existing routes within the city).


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

If the 4 county transit authority is created I expect that a CEO or Chief Administrator position will be created. If the salary is significantly more than what Michael Ford is earning presently ($160,000 last year) as CEO of AATA then I would like Mr. Ford to issue a statement that he has no interest in being considered for the position. Otherwise a personal monetary benefit may be the basis of his ardent support for the new authority. (IMHO)


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 7 p.m.

Mary Stasiak-The Ride: I followed your advice and visited the <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> site which you recommend. About three-quarters down the page the following statement appears: &quot;Now that a an unincorporated board is established, AATA is working with the County and cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti in the month of January to finalize details of the 4-Party Public Transit Agreement and Articles of Incorporation. These cities are involved because they both contribute a property millage to the authority that will be needed to maintain their services. This agreement lays out a process and the conditions that need to be met to transition from city-authority to a countywide-authority.&quot; Can you explain how both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti are already contributing property millage to the authority? From what Ann Arbor millage fund does the authority receive money and how much is contributed annually? How has this money been used so far? Does not the statement in the last sentence mean that the city-wide authority will end and be replaced by a county-wide authority? If this happens, how will present millage funds that finance AATA services to Ann Arbor taxpayers be maintained and present services protected?

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 7:15 p.m.

I'm not Mary, but I can provide an answer to a couple of your questions. The Ann Arbor millage is the result of a 1973 ballot initiative that placed a perpetual millage for transportation into the charter. It is collected by the city and directed to the AATA. See <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> for some history. The Ypsilanti millage is not paid directly to the AATA as designated revenue but instead is payment for a POSA (contractual agreement for service). The proposed NTA would receive this millage directly as a revenue stream instead of as a POSA. Other communities, like Ypsilanti Township and Pittsfield Township, also have POSAs but do not have dedicated millages, rather, they pay for them on a year-to-year basis through a general fund budgeting process

Alan Goldsmith

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 2:59 p.m.

&quot;I recently received an email in which Michael Ford encouraged people to attend the most recent City Council public hearing on the 4-Party agreement matter by writing in all caps that &quot;SOME FOLKS ARE TRYING TO STOP THE PROCESS.&quot; Mr. Ford's email showed quite clearly that he is not interested in providing reliable information, hearing the public, or having his process interfered with. What on earth was the head of AATA doing sending around an email trying to influence the outcome of a public hearing, anyway?&quot; Pat, it's clear once again, Conan Smith and others in County government, the Mayor and AATA are NOT at all interested in open and transparent government. It continues to be about secret deals, closed door decisions and stealing tax payer money without a vote from Ann Arbor residents. Once Mr. Ford gives up his 10K a year 'vehicle' allowance then we'll talk...


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 8:26 a.m.

I fully expect our mayor and city council to continue along the path of their track record. Stupid decisions, wasteful spending and working on personal projects. If this issue fits into one of these categories, then we already know the outcome. Bring on the art! No more police or firemen! Build another parking garage! Just like the old movie - 'Dumb and Dumber'.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 5:50 a.m.

While castigating Ms. Armentrout's recommendation that action on the 4 county transit authority be delayed you did not question the facts that she used to justify her position and offer no additional facts yourself. Unless you know that Ms. Armentrout's statements are untrue and are willing to provide evidence in support of your contention then your support for the 4 county transit authority rings hollow. Money is a key issue here and, despite Ms. Armentrout's clear explanation you do not understand the financial problems facing Ann Arbor taxpayers if the 4 county transportation authority is approved with existing legal provisions. Get familiar with all the ramifications and I am sure that you will change your mind and support Ms. Armentrout's effort to preserve AATA services and associated tax dollars.

Patricia Lesko

Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 1:09 a.m.

Ms. Stasiak, AATA already serves 2/3rd of the county with POS agreements. This is about finding money to fund the operating expenses of extortionately expensive light rail, not buses. The &quot;regional bus transportation&quot; story is a classic Hieftje redirect. Here's another example: Hieftje sponsored a Charter amendment to protect parkland owned by residents from being SOLD without a vote. Then, he turned around and supported LEASING parkland to U of M for a parking garage. What's the problem, people? The river front parcel worth $4-$10 million isn't being SOLD, after all.... AATA officials could have saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars AATA spent on consultants, pre-marketing and pursuing this plan, by having held 70 public meetings BEFORE the members of the AATA Board of Directors (several of whom don't live in Ann Arbor) had a straw vote and decided to pursue a half a billion dollar regional transportation scheme under the guise of county-wide bus transportation. I recently received an email in which Michael Ford encouraged people to attend the most recent City Council public hearing on the 4-Party agreement matter by writing in all caps that &quot;SOME FOLKS ARE TRYING TO STOP THE PROCESS.&quot; Mr. Ford's email showed quite clearly that he is not interested in providing reliable information, hearing the public, or having his process interfered with. What on earth was the head of AATA doing sending around an email trying to influence the outcome of a public hearing, anyway? As Jane Lumm suggested this is a classic example of &quot;Fire. Ready. Aim.&quot; leadership. It's insidious. It's wasteful and puts people like you in the position of defending poor government by suggesting 70 public hearings after the decision has been made is the same as consulting the public. It's not.

Mary Stasiak-TheRide

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

AATA appreciates public input as it continues to consider county-wide options for our community. We've held over 70 public forums over the past year, and we've dialogued with community members, community leaders, business leaders and others. We appreciate that the issues involved are complex and significant to many. We have endeavored to share information, concepts and plans with the public as they have evolved. Many of the concerns and questions being raised by the Ms. Armentrout and the comments already posted are addressed at This website page explains the process which will be followed for determining if a county-wide system will become a reality, and that process will include a vote by the citizens for it to become a new transit authority. At this time, we have developed a 30 year vision and are in the process of developing a five year implementation plan. The five year implementation plan will also be shared with all citizens and they will once again have a chance to provide their input. With respect to four party Public Transportation Agreement, information on that can also be found on the web page listed above. Among the proposed Agreement's highlights: 1) it reserves the current Ann Arbor millage for current service so that those funds will not support the additional service implemented through any additional funding; 2) reserves the right for the participants to not participate in any final plan; 3) protects AATA's assets from being transferred until such time that the voters approve the financing of a new county-wide authority and all conditions of the Public Transportation Agreement are satisfied. To learn more about the various service and funding options, the Public Transportation Agreement and the governing structure, visit the "Myths and Facts" link, as well as the links to the various documents prepared by AATA for all stakeholders at

Mary Stasiak-TheRide

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 10:08 p.m.

AATA has already informed City Council that it wishes for it to postpone its formal consideration of the four party Public Transportation Agreement until its March 5th meeting, at the earliest. This will allow the City Council and other partners to act further with the benefit of the full deliberations and recommendations of the full Financial Task Force. The Task Force will not meet until later this month. To learn more about the various service options, the funding options, the Public Transportation Agreement and the governing structure, visit the "Myths and Facts" link, as well as the links to the various documents prepared by AATA for all stakeholders at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> and at <a href=""></a>.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

Can't agree with this but it does point out an aspect of government that is insufferable to me, how long it takes to get something done. There is nothing wrong with being careful with very expensive projects but with this proposal there seems to be so many unanswered questions, it does not instill confidence it will get done correctly. I am not even sure by all the stories that there is even county wide agreement to expand the AATA. Or the question of &quot;Is it needed?&quot; has been answered. With transportation, alternatives to driving is very important because there are so many reasons why transportation can become very expensive, a big reason why people turn to buses, subways, etc. So if you are in favor of rejecting this, you should hope that there are no spikes in gas prices, no increases in licensing and registration fees, gas taxes or the cost of vehicles due to federal mandates on high MPG vehicles. Or if you think in the next decade or so these fees can go up drastically, now is a very good time to initiate a system like this. Perhaps the county should drop plans to extend AATA and focus on its own system.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 8:29 p.m.

It's good to see that so many local residents see this public Ponzi-scheme for what it is... a money-sucking boondoggle. Just don't forget to eliminate the REAL source of the problem - the diabolical Hieftje virus infesting city hall (and, apparently, AATA headquarters, too). The Hieftje and his money-guzzling minions will cheerfully lead us down that famous road paved with good intentions, to you-know-where! Too bad they aren't as keen on paving the streets of A2... oops, no money left for that! Grrrrrrrrr...!

Nancy Shiffler

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

If the 4-Party Agreement is just a &quot;framework&quot; for further discussion of things that will be voted on later, why do we need a signed agreement to do that? If it is actually committing us to something, let's be clear about that and stop calling it just a &quot;framework.&quot; There are, indeed, many things to be discussed -- the maintenance or improvement of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti services, the finances of going county-wide, and the role of the governor's proposed new regional transportation authorities. Let's continue that discussion, but do we really need a signed agreement to do that?

G. Orwell

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 7:12 p.m.

Why do we need the unelected NTA to take complete control of the AATA? It's just a big power grab. If outlying communities need bus service, work with the AATA to expand the service. The communities can pay small fees to provide the service to its residents. If residents really want bus service and it does not come near their house, move. The AATA cannot and should not provide bus service to every single person in WC. It is not a must. People do have cars. Vivienne has many good points and I hope the city council listens.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

Well said! This expansion plan is problematic on so many levels. From a demographic standpoint, the city of Ann Arbor has lost population from 2000 to 2010 (-.10%). Washtenaw County grew by only 6.8% and currently has a population of approx. 344,791 according the US Census Bureau estimate. Why are Ann Arbor taxpayers being asked to subsidize the transportation needs of county residents who chose to live out in the townships, using city tax dollars and financial assets (AATA buses, infrastructure) to help support the continued growth and sprawl of the county? Our city leadership should be looking for ways to increase the population within Ann Arbor over the next ten years, rather than increasing taxes and making it easier for township developers to continue building out the county (SPRAWL!). In 2020, wouldn't it be great if the city of Ann Arbor could actually see some population growth, rather than continuing to see all the growth occur out in the townships?

local guy

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 5:41 p.m.

A better, integrated, county-wide system, under any analysis, will be an asset for the entire community. The NTA is just a starting point. City Council and other participants still have many ways to review plans as they develop before a new authority is created. In other words, this is not a done deal, nor is it a commitment that it will ever happen. But there have been tons of surveys and analyses done which indicate that there is a need and benefit to all -- not just the riders -- if a better, county-wide system is in place. Of course, the question is the cost, but in order to fine-tune the cost figures, there must be a commitment to explore this more seriously. No taxes will be levied without a vote. So I just don't understand the naysayers. There is nothing to fear. Input is still welcomed. Votes will still be held if it goes further down the path. But realize that that plan is not to have fixed route buses driving all over the county. The out-county communities will have different types of services to enable folks to get around those communities and then to connect to feeders to cross-county services. Seniors, students, shoppers, workers, will all benefit. Taxes may go up by a half-mil, but property values will increase if there's a better system. We have a great system now, but it's limited. We're not an island. We need to be able to get beyond our arbitrary borders, to the airport, to jobs, to shop, to sports events, etc. The NTA is an important step to seeing if we can pull this off. But, it's only a step. Let's let our leaders and experts pursue this.


Tue, Feb 7, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

I was surveyed by phone before this took off, the survey was very one sided and abruptly ended when I gave a wrong answer. My son was surveyed on a bus that left no room for anything other than what was on AATA's agenda.

Steve Hendel

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 7:29 p.m.

Well, sure there have been &quot;...tons of surveys and analyses...&quot; indicating the need for a County-wide system; my guess is that most of these surveys and analyses have been conducted or sponsored by organizations with a vested interest in seeing the development of such a system. The devil is in the details (e.g. funding), a concern which you would apparently push aside while &quot;...our leaders and experts pursue this.&quot; It is those very same leaders and experts who came up with the overall $500,000,000 plan in the first place.

glenn thompson

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 5:26 p.m.

A very serious problem with the current proposal is that the finance does not make sense. A 1 mill tax over the townships, excluding Ann Arbor, would only generate approximately 1/2 of the revenue currently paid by Ann Arbor citizens for our bus system. Yet proponents of the proposal, like the post from Todd Austin, assert that it will provide county wide transportation for people to reach their place of employment. There are sections of Ann Arbor where it is difficult to use the bus without a long walk. It is illogical to think 1/2 of the Ann Arbor funding can provide significant service to an area 25 times as large. In addition to promising county wide service to the townships if they pass the millage Ann Arbor citizens have also been promised better service if only they vote for the additional millage also. All of this when the AATA is currently operating at about a $1 million budget deficit. This &quot;proposal&quot; seems more willingness to promise anything to increase revenue than an realistic plan.

David Cahill

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 5 p.m.

It appears from what supporters of the transportation plan say is that one agenda is to subsidize development (translation: big buildings) by having taxpayers underwrite employee and customer transportation costs. Sorry, I don't think there is a demand for more big buildings in a geographic area that is years away from any significanteconomic expansion.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 4:39 p.m.

You mean it is not dead yet? Quick give the mayor a phasor.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

to many other things like police and fire protection are necessary.Postpone PERMANENTLY.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 4:03 p.m.

Another administrative sinkhole funded by OPM. What's not to love?

Common Sense

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 3:53 p.m.

This sounds like a noble ideal but to my recollection there has been no community wide survey from the city of Saline and the Saline area townships. It seems that it would take so much effort and costs to reach the rural and semi-rural areas of the townships, that the cost would be prohibitive. I don't believe that there is enough support and dollars for such a program! Even using regional transit pickups, like downtown Saline, etc., you would still need a car to get to them. Then you would need to wait for a bus to get where you are going. By that time, you could have driven to your destination. I would definitely VOTE AGAINST A COUNTY WIDE TRANSIT MILLAGE.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 3:29 p.m.

Great opinion column. AATA should remain an AA/Ypsi system until the more rural areas bring serious money to the table to join the system. The idea that Ann Arbor has infinite tax dollars to support every good intention is crazy. When Dexter, Saline and Chelsea really want to join I'm sure they'll let us know.


Tue, Feb 7, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

It's my understanding that this new tax would also contribute to financing the WAVE and People's Express service. Doubtful that AATA buses would be running all of the service. AATA is already in negotiations regarding subcontracting and PAYING Indian Trails to operate the much needed Airport service.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 3:22 p.m.

The Federal government taxes us to spend money on this project, the state taxes us to spend money on this project and we are expected to tax ourselves .5 mils to pay for this. None of the advacotes for a badly designed county wide transit system will use it. To get from Milan to Ypsilsnti, You go from Milan to Saline to AA to Ypsi. Drive time by this route is 1 hr. Bus time with transfers 3hrs? Drive time Milan to Ypsilanti 15 minutes. How does that work for anyone This plan should only be adopted if, all Washtenaw County Commissioners and AA Transit executives, and all vocal supporters are required by law , to use the bus system daily.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 8:35 a.m.

Another tax and another place to skim money for more art. Bring it on!!


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 2:58 p.m.

It sounds like this needs more work, but they shouldn't give up on some type of plan. It has to be cheaper for the City if people commute down town on public transportation. Less road wear and tear, lower demand for parking. Think of all the savings in shoe leather cost for people who cannot imagine going downtown if they can't park *right in front* of where they are going? Fewer cars downtown, higher chance they can find a prime parking place. What a relief that would be!

Richard Wickboldt

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

I believe this whole concept is a messy affair. Out taxes will just increase over time. We have a fine system for AA/YI already. Why should we start subsidizing a county wide system. Let all the other fine neighboring cities fund, organize and implement a system. Once they have proven it is an efficient and effective system after a few years of operation. Then we should consider integrating AATA. If people in Saline, Dexter, Milan, Manchester and other fine Washtenaw communities would like to ride the bus to work or shopping. Let them set up the bus routes they need and fund it. I am sure that nobody is going to prevent them from entering AA and making stops. We are not going to have road blocks set up at the city border. I previously asked my Ward 1council representatives to just vote against AATA participating. A vote for 'Washtenaw County' Transportation Authority' is a vote for increased taxes! So not only should the AA city council postpone the vote indefinitely. I say just plain vote &quot;no way Jose&quot;. Spend the time on council innovating ways to lower our taxes. Gosh what a fine city council that would make! Remember your fine citizens/voters do not have bottomless pockets, we all haven't won the lottery. Most of us are very busy hard working families with children to raise; others are struggling on fixed incomes. We even have residents living in a tent city in the woods!

Kai Petainen

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

Vivienne....amazing work!


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 2:04 p.m.

I'm sorry, but I just don't see how this expanded transit authority is going to be worth the money that taxpayers will be asked to pay for it. Let's just address one point brought up by Mr. Austin, that it's a draw for young professionals. I just don't see how more frequent bus service to Saline or Chelsea is going to attract young professionals to Ann Arbor. I highly doubt that they're going to clamoring for those services. And, anyway, I don't think it's in Ann Arbor's interest to encourage them to live in Saline or Dexter. Ann Arbor should want them to live in Ann Arbor. It's nice to envision a public-transport system like New York's or Boston's, but we just don't have the population density here to support it.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

Maybe young professionals want to live somewhere &quot;affordable&quot; which is why those communities grew so much in the past few decades. Not to mention putting up with odd pedestrian laws and a city govt that spends a million dollars on a fountain. You have to be rich or very poor to live in A2. In Saline, Dexter, Chelsea you can get much more for your money in a house. And be able to put more in your savings.

Wolf's Bane

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

Not everyone can afford Ann Arbor. So, now we're doing taxpayer funded busing like they did in Boston back in the 70s.

Wolf's Bane

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

I still don't understand why we, Ann Arbor taxpayers, need to watch our tax dollars support a countywide public transit system. What's in it for us? Most of us don't even use it?! Just wondering, I suppose.


Tue, Feb 7, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

Again, as ask of Mr.Ford why does AATA need to become a County wide Authority, POSA agreements can be offered to any subdivision in the County as it has been common practice forever. The burbs can vote in their own Transit millage as Ypsi has done.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 8:44 p.m.

Or people who live in affordable areas of the county will be able to get a job in Ann Arbor and get there on the bus, maybe from an outlying parking lot like the one at M-14 and Miller Rd. so you don't have to pay the over the top parking fees the city charges.

Karen Sidney

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 4:56 p.m.

What is in it for you? One Council member that appears to favor the plan has said &quot;You may be able to take a bus to the Manchester chicken broil.&quot;


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

&quot;It is a fact that local businesses support this plan strongly. &quot; Of course they do. It will subsidize transportation costs for both their employees and customers. I'd be more impressed if the taxpayers supported this plan strongly, and I don't think they do.

Steve Hendel

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 12:59 p.m.

&quot;Local communities like Saline, Dexter, Milan, and Manchester are very much in support of this plan and are ready to pitch in their fair share of the cost. &quot; Mr Austin: And you know I understand that these communities MIGHT want the service, but what indication do you have as to how much they are willing to pay for it? THAT was the factor missing from all the public meetings held over the past year or two. Do they, for instance, expect service akin to what exists now in Ann Arbor? Is 1 mill a fair share for what will cost Ann Arbor taxpayers 3 mills and Ypsi taxpayers 2 mills?


Tue, Feb 7, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

Thanks Steve, Blunt and in desperate need of an answer!


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

I could not disagree more strongly with Ms. Armentrout. Washtenaw County is crying out for an integrated system of public transportation. The communities surrounding Ann Arbor are cut off from normal regular service. If you do not live in Ann Arbor proper or Ypsilanti, you have no hope of using public transportation to reach your place of employment. Our population is aging steadily and that population needs proper transportation of the sort they are unable to provide to themselves as they age. These seniors are a vital part of our community and their needs must be recognized and taken care of. To the young professionals we hope to attract to grow our economy, a vibrant and usable system of public transportation is key part of what attracts them to a given community. If we confine ourselves to a 20th-cenury dependence on personal automobiles, we have no hope of competing in the 21st century. It is a fact that local businesses support this plan strongly. They want the customers it will bring. They want their employees and potential employees to have options for getting to their place of employment. The U196 group at which Ms. Armentrout sneers has been doing an extraordinary job in partnership with the AATA and local stakeholders to develop a plan that represents the interests of all concerned. I have attended meeting after meeting organized by them at which our residents have expressed their passionate desire to see this plan go forward. If other local communities have not yet signed off on the deal, it should in no way be construed as a lack of support. Local communities like Saline, Dexter, Milan, and Manchester are very much in support of this plan and are ready to pitch in their fair share of the cost. They are simply all waiting for the 800lb gorilla in the room, the Ann Arbor City Council, to make the first move, as prudence dictates. The vital work deserves a showing of support from City Council, so that we may all move forward.


Sun, Feb 5, 2012 : 8:30 a.m.

We're crying, but it's not because of a lack of an integrated system of public transportation. We're crying because we are being led by a bunch of self-serving fools, bent on personal projects and wasteful spending.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

Dexter Village or Dexter Township? I live in Dexter Twp and my understanding is there is no support for this. I prefer alternate transportation but I won't vote for this until I know what level and frequency of service my area will get.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

It is untrue that there is widespread support in Milan, Dexter Saline &amp; Manchester from the people who pay the taxes fro bus service. It is fair to say the politicians and people who will not use the service support the concept.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 3:31 p.m.

I'd like to make it clear that the individuals serving on the u196 group are all sincere, serious, and civic-minded. Some of them are elected officials in their own jurisdictions. Their role thus far has been to attend meetings and listen. I have every respect for them as individuals but I do not believe that the body itself and the responsibility it has been assigned (to review the plans) are legitimate, especially since the promised agreements were not finalized. (The body was supposed to be based on Act 7 agreements, interlocal agreements that have not been filed with the Secretary of State.) And I question why Ann Arbor has only two representatives on it.


Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

The U196 group is an advocy group that supports the plan and does not support disent in the ranks. None of th U196 group will ever ride the bus from Milan to Ypsi.

Steve Hendel

Sat, Feb 4, 2012 : 11:33 a.m.

A big YES! The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, in it's drive to morph into the 'Washtenaw County' Transportation Authority, seems to have conveniently forgotten it's roots. It was chartered by the ANN ARBOR City Council and funded by a tax approved by the ANN ARBOR electorate; yet now, buses and ads and printed materials make little or no mention of ANN ARBOR, but instead something called &quot;The Ride.&quot; Huh? Is this what I have paid 2 mills for over the last (almost) 40 years? It is time for the Ann Arbor City Council to send a sharp message to the AATA, and table or permanently reject any agreement which vitiates local control of it's public transportation system.