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Posted on Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 2:42 p.m.

New transit tax: AATA survey shows less support in rural areas of Washtenaw County

By Ryan J. Stanton


The results of a recent countywide survey showing how voters in different areas of Washtenaw County feel about transit services and the possibility of paying a new 1-mill countywide tax to expand services.

Courtesy of AATA

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority officials today released the complete results of a recent community survey that found support for a new countywide transit millage.

That includes a detailed breakdown of how voters in different areas of Washtenaw County feel about a 1-mill property tax to pay for countywide transit services, showing the strongest support in Ann Arbor and the least support in Chelsea and the western townships.

A financial task force helping the AATA with its plans for a countywide transit expansion released a long-awaited funding report Wednesday showing a five-year countywide transit plan actually could be funded with a 0.5-mill countywide tax. That would equal $50 a year for a property with a taxable value of $100,000 or a market value of $200,000.

Download the survey results released today:


A more detailed look at the support and lack of support for a 1-mill countywide transit millage in Washtenaw County. The percentages here are lower than in the map above because the survey asked respondents two times whether they'd vote for a countywide transit millage. Once respondents were given a list of possible reasons to support or oppose the milage, and then asked again how they would vote, support climbed to the levels shown in the map. These are results from the initial vote.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


AAPS Student

Sun, Mar 11, 2012 : 9:20 p.m.

I know every adult I know will vote NO on this millage. I definitely would


Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 7:19 a.m.

I can't even get the Washtenaw County sheriff to come to my house. Why would I want a bus to come?

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 10:57 p.m.

Regarding your statement about the Financial Task Force's report, please note that they excluded the expensive rail projects and the expensive connector projects from their calculations. Yet these projects remain as part of the Transit Master Plan and nothing this task force says will prevent a new transit authority from funding them. Further, the new authority will have bonding and taxing authority. They may impose any legal tax and may borrow from government or private sources. Therefore, obligations are likely to require more than 0.5 mill eventually. Also, the FTF report recommends raising fares by 50 cents. This defeats the efforts toward social equity that this plan evokes. I'm writing a blog series on equity, though only the first one <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> has been published.


Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

Vivienne, the Financial Task Force also recommended that AATA wait to investigate further with the purposed RTA and go no further with any of the plans for now. I am curious however, as both and the Chronicle had reports that warned of an significant shortfall of cash over the first 5 year period based upon the service improvements in the TMP. Have these issues been resolved? AATA has yet to show what service improvements they will offer.

Berda Green

Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.



Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 8:31 p.m.

Duh most people don't live in rural areas so they can rely on public transportation.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 6:53 p.m.

What a joke; a transit system like this will only lower the standard of living in Ann Arbor. We already have to put up with rich brats from New York, now you want us to import hillbillies from Chelsea and rednecks from Brighton? I like six bucks a gallon of separation, when it comes to the greater Hooterville area. Isn't that what the "Green Thing" around Ann Arbor was for; to keep us safe from idiots and keep the brats in?


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 10:05 p.m.

Ann Arbor has some ignorants since you don't realize that Brighton is NOT washtenaw county - and this is a proposed &quot;county wide&quot; transit. And not many &quot;hillbillies&quot; live in Chelsea, it's actually mostly upper class or middle class


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 5:06 p.m.

So how screwed up is this: The people who would allegedly benefit from this busing DON'T WANT IT. Yet the all knowing benefactors of the smartest city in America know what is right for those unwashed hicks and will jamb it down their throats whether they want it or not. Then make them pay for it. Seems to have some parallels with a certain 1018 page health care law recently passed. I see the people in the smartest city in America have learned those lessons anyway.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 2:28 p.m.

Those surveyed were unaware of the following future events: - City of Ypsilanti Water St. millage vote and outcome - City of Ypsilanti income tax vote and outcome - Proposed increase in MI vehicle registration fees to pay for the new proposed regional transportation authority (RTA) - Increased township water rates and other user fee and tax increases like AA's street millage and possible AAPS tech millage - Increased uncertainty of AATA's annual state and federal funding levels - Etc., etc.... Just have the vote and get it over with, why push the vote out into next year??


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 2:26 p.m.

My question to russellr, what if you could not afford to own a car and had to ride the buses? How you can afford to do this on $8 amazes me. I can afford to own a car and it is not easy making nearly $15 and hour. There are many who cannot afford their own transportation, especially with the insurance rates and gas approaching $5 a gallon. The day may come when both of us may have to consider public transportation, and I use it when possible since I live off a bus line. To state you are so such sufficient as to resent the plight of others is selfishness personified and that mentality of people like yourself perturbs me to no end. Are we not are brothers keepers? In the end the issue should not be whether we should subsidize public transportation, but to make sure our dollars are spent properly. That is the real issue here.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 4:40 a.m.

My TIME is valuable. How long does it take to get from uhhh... let's say Ecorse and Ford to Domino Farms? Or even UM Hospital? then figure the ride home..... Then figure the guy who lives at Bethel Church and Ernst (Manchester) and needs to get to U Hosp.... how long would that ride take? How much would it cost? Then figure out how long the ride would take if the person used a car and how much would be spent on gas. Financial savings? Sure - a buck or two. (Not counting the increase in their property tax) but what about the time spent taking public transit? Oh... and would a bus pick that person up in Manchester at their home? Or would they have to find a way to get to some central meeting point ? No person in a rural community who is in their right mind would support a county wide transit program.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 6 p.m.

Probably more than a buck or two, as AATA will raise the fare and impose a zone charge for those folks in Manchester or out in the county.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 4:24 a.m.

I participated in this survey and said no, no, no. I actually believe and support public transportation. We need it. We need a good system. What we don't need is the pie-in-the-sky, Taj Mahal that is being proposed. Let's encourage folks live in cities, support them, given them good public transit. Let's assume the folks (like me) who live outside the city are choosing to do so at our own risk to gas prices and commutes and traffic. AATA does NOT need to expand to the outreaches of the county. It maybe should expand services in the denser areas to help those folks out. I would support a small, realistic millage - just not the we-can-be-everything-to-everyone proposal that this one is.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 2:12 a.m.

LOL. If gas hits $5 a gallon Obama will be headed back to the South side come January 2013! This whole regional transit scheme is a ruse. Come on put it on the ballot. It will fail 60/40 and we can move on to more important things.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 1 a.m.

Seems like a lot of money to drive empty busses around. How full are the busses?


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 12:46 a.m.

Talking about entitlement... I'm entitled to $1 per gallon gas! Me me me me me!


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

AATA pick someone else's pocket, I live in Saline and we don't have any service here.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 11:26 p.m.

Why in the name of all that is good are they trying to get us to pay MORE for a business that operates at a LOSS to EXPAND? And what's with this: &quot;23 percent said that they or someone in their family had used public transit within the past year.&quot; So this ia family that lives in Michigan? And someone I'm related to taking the bus one time means what? Why is this even a question? What bearing does a &quot;yes&quot; answer have on this proposed expansion/taking more money from us? You know how people were more likely to be in favor when you explain reasons to support it? Why don't you ask them a first time, then explain how much money AATA takes from our taxes and STILL operates at a massive loss, and now they want more money to make their at-a-loss operation bigger, then ask a second time. See if the second answer still trends up. And we can we get how the surveyed group was chosen?

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 9:25 p.m.

The full report is actually quite explicit about how the sampling was done. AATA is commendable for chosing a firm that uses prescribed sampling techniques, in contrast to many City of Ann Arbor surveys done using the self-selecting Surveymonkey approaches.

Joe Kidd

Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

RU while you point is fine, Anders is explaining that with any publicly supplied/funded service people will agree to pay more for it if it is seen as an overall benefit. With public transit, people may feel it is worth it to pay more to save on not just the cost of gas, but also to make your vehicle last longer by less use. I live in western Washtenaw and my beef as noted above it that I have no info on how efficient the system will be for me. But even if we could say, opt out tax wise, we can still benefit by driving to a park and ride lot, like the one at M-14 and Miller and take the bus to the final destination. The key is if the ever expanding drain is in the public service tax or your personal expenses.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 3:21 a.m.

Anders, perhaps government services don't need to turn a profit, but they're also not supposed to be expanding and adding an ever-increasing drain on those they are supposed to serve. You don't pay to expand a service by increasing the burden of it.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 12:59 a.m.

Why should a public service profit? Do highways profit? Do public libraries profit? Do public schools profit? Do policemen and firemen profit? Do military profit? Public services are not private businesses. They are not measured by balance sheet. They are measured by how the communities benefit as a whole minus the cost. Even if you don't drive, you benefit from a good public transit system: less public parking spaces are needed (less tax); less congested traffic, if less people drive themselves; if you are a &quot;job creator&quot;, you also benefit from a workforce that have less trouble commute.

Ricardo Queso

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 10:34 p.m.

For all of the alleged &quot;savings&quot; this is simply a transfer of wealth. AATA conveniently neglects to publicize the true cost of each ride. Subtract the millage, subtract the federal subsidies and you will find bus fares are not even close to covering the cost of a ride.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

Any reason to put a hand in your wallet is a good reason to these people..some day the taxpayers will revolt and put an end to the nanny state....and it can't happen soon enough...

Richard Wickboldt

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 10:28 p.m.

This is going to just raise our taxes. They will keep being raised over the years once this is in place... Every time: this county wide system wants to expand, get new buses, make new or expand bus terminals, give raises to the employees who's size and numbers will grow, the larger bureaucracy to run the system, the cost of the benefits and retirement for employees and retirees, special services to special interest groups. Enough is Enough. I already pay close to a $1000/month in taxes. I do not want them increased any more for something which will not benefit me... but also the vast majority of the people in this county will never use a bus. We all drive because a bus system could never nor will service all the many different places we need to go. Most of us need to run errands to several places in one trip and do it quickly as possible because of such a hectic life of this modern age. No More Taxes! This system will have minimal impact on gasoline consumption. Many of us would be paying more in taxes than the rise in the cost of gasoline. Gosh people and AA city council members get out of the land of Oz and into the real world. If the citizens of let's say Saline or any other community overwhelmingly think they have a need for buses to take them some place. Let them make their own transit authority and pay for it themselves. Nobody is going to prevent their buses from traveling to Ann Arbor or Chelsea. I just hope all of my fellow Ann Arbor citizens tell their city council members to vote not to proceed.... and if they do vote to pass; we all vote down the millage and proposal when it comes to general vote. Then vote out the present city council. Let's unite together against this foolishness and higher taxes!


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

This is exactly what happened in Ypsi. They vote in a &quot;temporary tax&quot; that AATA was pressuring for, not a penny collected before AATA tells them it will not be adequate to cover the service that you presently receive. Now, AATA wants to turn it into a permanent tax in addition to the County Wide Tax.

Joe Kidd

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

I still have not seen what service we would see in western Washtenaw. For me to support it, the service is going to have to be frequent enough to make it worth a rise in taxes.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

When gas hits 5 bucks a gallon, and it stays or goes higher from there, we will have bigger issues than transportation to freak out about!


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

It's coming my friend................


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

When gas prices hit $5 bucks a pop, you are going to see a lot of expressed interest, especially in the out lining areas for mass transit. Or at least able to park close to home and get on one of these buses. Trust you me, we use AATA all the time. Glad I work close to home. Otherwise, I would not be able to afford it. Glad I live near AATA what a great way to ride.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 5:30 p.m.

Mike? Better vote Obama out because he plans to make sure gas does go up to $7. As for walking in the rain? Me and Gene love it. Thanks for asking.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 12:45 a.m.

@Mike, Free market is so good, let free market decides price... until it's the price I don't like.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 10:32 p.m.

jns131 - &quot;Glad I live near AATA....&quot; Were you one of the people I saw walking home in the rain today? Wouldn't you prefer more bus stop shelters in town to stay warm and dry, versus spreading the current system thin over such a large area?

Joe Kidd

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:53 p.m.

It will happen at $4/gallon as it did in July 2008


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:52 p.m.

When the price of gas hits $5.00 you are also going to see an increased interest in a new president. Can I take my tools and lumber on the bus to work? Are circular saws and mud allowed on the bus? This administration has publicly stated they would like to see $7.00 per gallon or more to force the electric car issue. The fact the the economy will be reduced to ruins is just a necessary byproduct of the agenda driven mentality of those in charge.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

I do not use the bus system or anybody in my family. I pay for my own gas, insurance, maintenance, and car payments. I DO NOT WANT TO PAY FOR OTHER PEOPLE'S TRANSPORTATION COSTS!!!! I make $8.00 an hour. Stop coming up with ideas on how to spend my hard earned money. I hope we get a say so in this.


Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 4:17 a.m.

Tom - Only if you live on a route and the bus schedule works for your job. If you work swing and live on Cherry Hill, the public transit millage will not help you at all. If you live in Saline and want to get to a job in Dexter, you better plan on a 2 plus hour commute.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 9:30 p.m.

You could probably save a lot of money by taking the bus.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 7:54 p.m.

lots of &quot;I&quot; statements.. Well I pay for lots of things that I don't use. However I understand it is not about me, it is about community, a greater good, it is about we the people..


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 12:43 a.m.

I do not drive. Why should I pay tax to subsidize YOUR gas?

Mumbambu, Esq.

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:55 p.m.

I'm just impressed you were able to purchase a house in the county making 8 dollars an hour. Well done!

Angry Moderate

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

You paid to build and maintain your own private roads and highways, right?


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:06 p.m.

Your say will be this. Glad you can afford half your pay to get to and from work. I would rather not spend it on gas if I can help it. Glad to hear you can. I can't.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

hey ...people? gas is $4 and rising.


Thu, Mar 8, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

Increased gasoline prices should allow for increasing riders' share of the cost of service. It is not a mandate that taxpayers rescue them. Who rescues taxpayers from increased taxes and gasoline prices?


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 5:32 p.m.

Have you ever drive a bus on dirt roads? O my is it hard on the bus and the bottom.

5c0++ H4d13y

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:30 p.m.

But the bus is NOT coming out to the boonies. Probably wont stop anywhere near M's house.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

Because once you realize you are spending way more on gas then you are on groceries? You will understand why a bus is coming out to the boonies. Obama is trying to stop subsidies on gas commodities. Gas is going to go thru the roof.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

So? How would taxing me waaaaay out in the boonies save me any money on gas? Stop asking the surrounding areas to support Ann Arbor's follies. There's no way even 10% of people in the surrounding counties will gain any benefit from this. NO MORE NEW MILLAGES.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 8:23 p.m.

so you have two percentages for people in a2 that would support this and the chart below explains why, but 72% support the millage increase? are these tax paying residents or just people that took the survey to include non tax payers? additionally I cannot recall when anything got 80% support around here. I don't want to put more money into a system that can't turn a profit and is bloated with &quot;directors&quot; or &quot;executives&quot; croonies.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 8:16 p.m.

I'd take the bus from Ann Arbor to the western communities and spend some money on dining and exploring a few times each year.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 4:48 a.m.

Uh... I smell something and it's often found in a cow pasture. So, you would really ride a bus (probably taking 2 hours or more) to ride to a village like Manchester or Chelsea or Dexter to do some exploring? You can walk through any of those towns in less than half the time you would spend on the bus getting there. And the towns aren't tourist attractions - sorry, but nothing to offer you city people


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 1:41 a.m.

a couple times? I'd figure this is a choice and the responisbility would be the individual's to do this and pay for it accordingly. I have done this type of thing, but with belt tightening have cut back and when/if i do this kind of activity pick and choose and would not also think a round trip for $6 for 2 people would be good value when a gallon of gas and using my car would work. I choose however to not use the gallon of gas randomly like this so much anymore but rather group activities based on needs. Why should a busride be supplied for a random, infrequent experience at a high cost for others to provide this for you.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

Why should the property owners be burdened with supporting the bus system? Who did the AATA survey? The students who don't own any property in Ann Arbor? Or maybe the people driving into Ann Arbor who also do not pay any property taxes here in Ann Arbor. They must have asked the people at the University of Michigan if they would support a millage. Of course they would support a millage. It won't affect them. The UoM doesn't pay any taxes on the billions in propety they own. How about the trailer parks? They essentially do not pay any property tax. I am will to pay taxes but I would like to see some equality. If everyone would pay their fair share the taxes I pay would go down. NO, NO, NO MORE TO NEW MILLAGES.


Sun, Mar 4, 2012 : 4:14 a.m.

jns131 - Don't forget the library millage in Ann Arbor and the AAPS school district and the new library bond millage. Oh, and if you don't live in Ann Arbor, be ready for new public safety millages too.


Sat, Mar 3, 2012 : 9:33 p.m.

I'm glad people like Val and Richard are in the clear minority in this county. Thank God for that.

Richard Wickboldt

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 10:40 p.m.

We do not need to choose between AATA or AAPS. Just vote no on both! Spending money on technology is a waste because technology is ever changing every 12 - 18 months and becomes obsolete. I also say let's vote out giving our money away for a Green Belt and also yes preserving nature by burning and pulling weeds and pretty flowers. What do they call it NAP. A CR comes to my mind. Let's all start getting smart. Don't vote in any new taxes and vote out the ones not needed!


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

Uh, there is a new mileage coming out to support AAPS techno stuff. So, you choose, AATA or AAPS? Both are going to be on the ballot.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

Wait. Does that map mean that 23% of the households in the western part of the county have a member who uses public transportation? That seems high to me. Is there even service other than that express bus out that way? I guess it could be park and ride but I feel I am misunderstanding the number.

Joe Kidd

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:51 p.m.

&quot;23 percent said that they or someone in their family had used public transit within the past year.&quot; That is what it says and all it means is that a family member has used public transit in the past year. That is all it means, not that they used it from where they live. I used the bus in A2 but not from where I live out west here. I park in a neighborhood and take the bus.


Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 9:10 p.m.

Most times though it is one time only which is why they have to commute. The bus services out there are not available to all people. I saw the Canton service. Wow, what a tight schedule that one is.

Emma B

Fri, Mar 2, 2012 : 8:21 p.m.

I have actually seen fairly large numbers of people on that bus while driving past it on 94. I'm not saying that the number seems totally accurate, but there is a fair amount of use that far west. And having lived in Chelsea, I can attest to a significant number of the population working in Ann Arbor or Ypsi. Both of my parents commute from Chelsea to Ypsi (though not on public transit).