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Posted on Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 5:25 p.m.

Ypsilanti joins Ann Arbor in opposing Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority

By Katrease Stafford

The city of Ypsilanti will support Ann Arbor in its effort to request Washtenaw County be removed from the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority.

City officials said Tuesday that plans to explore a possible urban core regional transit system with Ann Arbor and Saline, and the townships of Ann Arbor and Pittsfield should move forward.


The city of Ypsilanti is supporting the effort to create a transit authority for Washtenaw County's urban core.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The Ypsilanti City Council voted unanimously in favor of a resolution that will be sent to Gov. Rick Snyder, the Michigan Legislature, Governmental Consultant Services Inc. consultant Kirk Profit and the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners.

Council Member Pete Murdock announced plans in January to bring forth the resolution.

The RTA legislation passed through the state House Dec. 6, with a 57-50 vote and was signed into law in December. The legislation created an RTA for the city of Detroit and Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne counties.

Murdock said he was approached by Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje, who emailed him and Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber asking them to consider voicing their opposition.


Richard Murphy

Courtesy photo

The Ann Arbor City Council unanimously passed a resolution objecting to the RTA Dec. 10 during a special meeting.

Murdock said the city should devote its efforts to maintaining a long relationship with Ann Arbor and the Ann Arbor Transit Authority. Murdock said over the past month, he's met with several county officials to discuss how the legislation impacts the area.

"I think we all generally came up with the conclusion that we need to form some regional authority that consists of the core urban area," Murdock said. "It's critical to have Ann Arbor as part of this. ... They have an interest in having Ypsilanti as part of their services."

Although council passed the resolution, some members expressed concern over what message it would send.

"My concern is if we pull out of the larger picture, is it ultimately going to affect our funds or our ability to continue our millage," said Mayor Pro Tem Lois Richardson. "Won't we still be competing for the same dollars that the RTA is?"

Murdock said there is some concern regarding how federal money would be allocated.

"People are a little nervous about how that's going to go," he said.

Richard Murphy, one of Washtenaw County's representatives on the RTA governing board, addressed council and advised members to be cautious before supporting the withdrawal of Washtenaw County.

"I believe it has significant benefits," Murphy said. "We wouldn't want to see Ypsilanti give up its seat at the table without careful consideration. ... We want to be part of the conversation about regional transit."

Murphy said the RTA will expand the eligibility for federal transit funding, and it opens the door for the first realistic financing plan to implement an Ann Arbor- Detroit Commuter Rail system.

Murphy said the only way for the county to be removed is by an act of legislation.

Murphy acknowledged that there are some flaws with the legislation that the board is working to sort out.

Mayor Paul Schreiber said the county has an immediate transit problem that needs to be solved now.

"I think that the RTA at this point doesn't work for us," Schreiber said. "I think the RTA is the right thing to do long term, but it just isn't right for us now. ... Washtenaw County transportation has been punched in the gut."

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.


Jon Wax

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:06 p.m.

i still don't understand the point of this. yeah i see that other locations have transit sysems. but those locations merit it, sorta. where is this system intended to run from and to? the folks who flood A2 every morning come by car. i don't think they would be giving that up. so then who does that leave? and in return, where does it take me if i want to jump on? from a2 to detroit? uhmmm... not sure if i want to be locked in a box that rolls deeper and deeper into a city no police force or ems. any extra info would be appreciated. i don't understand why this is such a huge thing right now. seems like it's been fine all along without it. Peace Wax


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

I am not sure any of the governing bodies represented in this legislation likes this bill. If the late Coleman Young was still mayor of Detroit he would have had a fit too. He bitterly opposed any regional transportation authority as a usurpation of his city's authority. It seems Washtenaw County has taken the same position. The only people that benefit from this garbage bill are Tricky Rick and his cronies.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

I think that we have to figure out how to all work together which will benefit the entire region in the long run. Look at the at the BIG picture...not just today.

Dog Guy

Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:06 a.m.

In addition to promising "free" federal money to sell that RTA, Richard Murphy could promise to paint buses to look like trolley cars, 19th Century locomotives, and Weinermobiles. Bells and whistles are also nice.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:51 p.m.

I know Richard Murphy to be a very astute planner. He has been involved in transit issues for several years. In this case he is the appointed messenger too. So don't shoot the messenger and listen carefully.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 2:51 a.m.

"Murphy said the only way for the county to be removed is by an act of legislation." He offered them the carrot earlier with grant money and regional trains and what not and finished then hit them with the stick by reminding them that they can't get out of this without legislation.


Thu, Feb 7, 2013 : 12:07 a.m.

This should be a no-brainer --- combining resources to have a great regional transit system and allow folks to easily travel my public transportation between Ann Arbor and other places in SE Michigan -- But in reality, I can't think of anything WORSE for Ann Arbor -- it would get nothing of benefit out of this arrangement, while allowing the other counties to usurp our superior resources. Fully in support of severing ties. Its probably not a huge to-do, because if they don't approve it the first time around, you can keep it tied up in the courts effectively blocking the ENTIRE project until they finally let Ann Arbor/Ypsi opt out...another pure political move that will have no effect in the long run but which allows Snyder (whom I like) to appease his conservative local SE lobbyists....


Wed, Feb 6, 2013 : 11:19 p.m.

Mr. Representative, nobody in Washtenaw wants to ride on your RTA bus. What? Those dang liberals always gotta pull something ! Well sir, its the townships and Saline too. What? Those dang liberals and conservatives always gotta pull something ! Uh, wait a minute, how did I get into office again?