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Posted on Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 6:10 a.m.

AATA bus service to Ypsilanti could be reduced under proposal passed Tuesday

By David Wak

Bus service to Ypsilanti is expected to be reduced under a plan passed by the City Council Tuesday night.

But under the worst case scenario, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's service to the city would have been eliminated altogether because of the city's inability to pay its share of the service. The city's plan still needs approval from the AATA Board of Directors.

At issue was whether Ypsilanti could pay its share of the bus service, which AATA says has been subsidized for years.

The council's resolution passed Tuesday calls for:

  • A 21-month agreement with AATA from Oct. 1 through June 30, 2011.
  • Eliminating Packard Road's Route Five into the city, but with a possible turnaround at Hewitt Road at Ypsilanti High School. Shortened schedules are planned for Routes 10 and 11, which service the northeast and southeast sections of the city and Ypsilanti Township, with the last bus running at 9:30 instead of 10:30 p.m.
  • Using $101,000 of AATA's $6.1 million allotment in federal stimulus money to offset the city's bus service budget shortfall for 2010.

The City Council also is asking AATA to reconsider a proposed 30-percent rate hike for bus service, with yearly 10 percent increases through 2012.


If AATA accepts the resolution, the route changes could take place by May 2010.

But AATA manager Christopher White said even if the AATA Board of Directors approves the $101,000 in stimulus funds, it would be a stopgap measure at best.

AATA has been subsidizing the Ypsilanti bus routes for several years, but is now asking the city to pay its full amount for service - around $245,000 for next year - or lose the bus service by spring 2010.

AATA officials said Ann Arbor residents, who pay 2 mills toward the bus service, are already taxed enough and Ypsilanti needs to pay its share. If AATA agrees to the resolution, it's expected to hold a series of meetings between now and May 2010 with officials and the public to get input on the changes and reductions in service.

The city was already facing a $463,000 budget shortfall. Last spring, AATA officials said the city needed to pay the increase as part of a process to eventually take on the actual costs for bus services. By 2012, the city will be expected to pay around $291,000.

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber, who voted against the resolution, asked the board to hold off on the vote until he and council members could further look at the details. He said keeping the present bus service was a priority for many reasons - one being that many young people move to Ypsilanti but commute to jobs in Ann Arbor.

"I'm against (bus) service reduction," Schreibner said.

Council Member Peter Murdock, D-3rd Ward, who called for the resolution vote, said the council needed to quit putting off the decision. He said the council has been wrestling with the issue for years and needs to find a more permanent solution instead of being in crisis mode every six months.

Murdock added that the council also needs to keep the public in the loop on the city's fiscal situation. He said the city may consider a millage to pay for bus service. "We need to tell the people what our plans are," Murdock said.

Several residents spoke out against the resolution, including members of the Advance Ypsilanti PAC. Resident Beth Bashert said she thought it was unfair for the council to call the special meeting so soon after a major holiday when the public was not likely to be tuned in to the issue. She also said the decision was being made by council members who have probably never ridden the bus and have no idea what difficulties reduced bus service would cause for riders.

"You're dictating sacrifices that you don't have to make," Bashert said.

Terri Blackmore, executive director of the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study, offered figures for the number of riders commuting to jobs in Ann Arbor daily - 3,836 from Ypsilanti, 6,327 from Ypsilanti Township, and 1,419 from Superior Township.

Blackmore also said 1,156 riders from Ann Arbor, 2,201 from Ypsilanti Township, and 460 from Superior Township use the bus to get to jobs in Ypsilanti.

"I just think it's critical (for the bus service to remain intact)," Blackmore said.

White said AATA's Board of Directors may meet sometime this month to discuss the resolution and give the City Council an answer.

  • Yes - it is important to keep service to the east side of the county
  • No - Ann Arbor taxpayers should not subsidize service to Ypsilanti

File photo of AATA riders.

David Wak is a freelance writer for Reach our news desk at or 734-623-2530.


DJ Doubleplus

Fri, Sep 11, 2009 : 5:25 p.m.

Raise the rates if you have to, but keep the service running. It is essential. In the age of global warming we need more public transportation, not less. Evening and weekend routes are important too, as not everyone works 9-5, M-F.


Fri, Sep 11, 2009 : 7:17 a.m.

Money for schools has been cut. Money for local government has been cut. Money for all sorts of important services has been eliminated. AATA has to weather the storm just as the rest of Washtenaw County must. This is nothing other than a naked money grab during a difficult financial time. It's offensive and unrealistic. If AATA can't afford the service it provides, it will need to make the same kind of cuts that each and every family and municipal government in the county has already been forced to make.

Anthony Clark

Thu, Sep 10, 2009 : 11:47 p.m.

The poll questions are badly worded. I agree with both statements. It is vitally important to keep service to the east side of the county. Actually, service should be expanded to include the whole county, but Ann Arbor taxpayers should not shoulder the whole burden. Outlying communities need to pay their fair share.

Lisa Bashert

Thu, Sep 10, 2009 : 5:58 p.m.

I would think that Ann Arbor residents would be happy to subsidize the transportation of the low-wage workers that serve them in so many capacities.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Sep 10, 2009 : 10:49 a.m.

Just got word the AATA meeting tonight is cancelled.

Jeremy Peters

Thu, Sep 10, 2009 : 9:11 a.m.

Small observation. The poll questions aren't the fairest in the world, and are likely providing a false result on the negative due to the lack of parity of tone between the yes and no question. What I'm speaking of: "Should the AATA continue to offer bus service to Ypsilanti? Yes - it is important to keep service to the east side of the county. No - Ann Arbor taxpayers should not subsidize service to Ypsilanti."


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 7:09 p.m.

Perhaps the time has come for the AATA and the U-M bus system to join forces and form a true Regional Transit Authority in Washtenaw County. Combining the manpower and equipment of both bus systems; would double the size and ability of the current Transit Authority; and may well be the most logical move to quickly put in place a plan of action. Development of a funding source appears to be the most daunting task of this endeavor. The University of Michigan's Campus Bus Service should be included in any serious conversations regarding regional transportation. U-M certainly has the equipment and ability to physically be included in these plans.

Ryan J. Stanton

Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 5:05 p.m.

The AATA Planning and Development Committee will meet on Thursday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. at AATA Headquarters to discuss the City of Ypsilanti Purchase of Service Agreement. The meeting is posted on the AATA Web site in the list of PDC meetings.

Advance Ypsilanti

Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 3:45 p.m.

The City Councils decisive action in Ypsilanti certainly precluded consideration of any alternatives or public involvement. Action on this issue was not on the agenda and the hastily assembled resolution was predicated on assumptions not within the control of the City Council.


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 1 p.m.

When I first moved to Ann Arbor I resolved that I would not use a car to commute to work. I either rode my bike or took the bus. For two years I was on the #5 at 7:30 AM - what a crush! This is a much needed route that serves it's patrons well. I suggest a temporary fix should be to continue the #5, but charge an extra fare to travel to Ypsi - a zone fare system like the metro in Washington. But seriously, folks, it's time for A2 to cast off the Detroit car domination, and move into the 21st century by all of us pitching in our share for regional mass transit. We don't need a 600 car underground parking lot in downtown A2, or another couple hundred spaces at a transit center near the UofM hospital. We need real mass transit which means frequent buses past 10 PM, trains, bicycle facilities and, yes, some car parking - but keep most of the cars on the periphery of the downtowns.


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 12:28 p.m.

maybe the AnnArbor DDA could also chip in some $$, they benefit from the low wage workers coming into town for dishwashing etc....if they can afford 1 million for signage wht's a few hundred thousand? I support a county /sotheast Michigan public transportation tax to cover AATA and its partners.

Chuck Warpehoski

Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 9:49 a.m.

Hey, can you say more about this quote, "AATA officials said Ann Arbor residents, who pay 2 mills toward the bus service, are already taxed enough and Ypsilanti needs to pay its share." I'd like to know who those officials are. I can think of one board member who has expressed that idea, but I wouldn't say he speaks for the AATA as a whole. As an Ann Arbor taxpayer, I want buses that GO SOMEWHERE. I think there is a strong case for Ann Arbor taxpayers to cover some of the tab of getting workers and shoppers who live in Ypsi to Ann Arbor, as well as getting Ann Arborites who work in Ypsi to their jobs. Regarding halflight's concern about what neighborhoods get served, there are transit-dependent drivers of all income groups. I have middle-class friends who choose not to drive or cannot drive because of conditions such as epilepsy. So we need both broad coverage within Ann Arbor as well as quality service connecting Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti.

Alan Benard

Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 9:49 a.m.

"What we need is a county-wide transit millage. " Bravo, but this does not go far enough. We need a Southeast-Lower-Michigan regional economic plan which includes Detroit, transportation, zoning and development and job creation.


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 8:40 a.m.

While I appreciate some of the positions listed here, the article explains it all: Ann Arbor residents pay for the buses with tax money, while the city of Ypsilanti and other related townships are getting some of the benefit. Short of their participation, or of the discussed city income tax, an increased fare may make up the difference, and due to the length of the trip, would make sense.


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 8:24 a.m.

Ypsilanti residents depend on this vital service to preserve getting to and from the jobs, take this away and no job, more unemployment and more crime, cut routes of the rich and famous of ann arbor where drving a $40,000 to $80,0000 car is nothing to someone and preserve these needed routes where not everyone can afford a car.


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 8:13 a.m.

Wow, this was lousy governance and representation. AATA has put forth a solid stance saying they will work with Ypsi. Murdock wants some "permanent solution" because why? This is the worst possible time to do something permanent. He pushed this for constituents or himself? Why not take a little more time to consider alternatives instead of rushing through some sham meeting right after Labor day?


Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 8:06 a.m.

AATA's funding and service is out of whack. Empty buses serve wealthy neighborhoods in Ann Arbor, while service to people in Ypsi who depend on the bus is cut back.

Laura Bien

Wed, Sep 9, 2009 : 7:38 a.m.

The bus fare is still among the cheapest in Michigan. A small rate hike could make all the difference: bus riders have indicated in the past that they are in favor of a rate hike as opposed to losing the service.