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Posted on Tue, Sep 10, 2013 : 10:55 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township moves closer to AAATA membership and expanded bus service

By Tom Perkins

Ypsilanti Township and the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority are one step closer to providing significantly expanded service in the township.

At their Sept. 9 meeting, the Ypsilanti Board of Trustees approved a resolution requesting membership in the AAATA.

Next, the AAATA board will vote on whether or not to send the request to the Ann Arbor City Council, which will vote on whether or not to accept the request.

The township currently contracts for service with the AAATA for $306,000 annually. No figure on how much more the extended service would cost is yet available.

The proposed plan calls for extended hours for routes 4, 5 and 6 running along Washtenaw Avenue, Packard Road and Ellsworth Road, respectively.


Route 4 would see extended hours if Ypsilanti Township joins the AAATA

Tom Perkins | For

Three Ypsilanti Township routes — 10, 11 and 20 — would be split into seven new routes. The routes would start from the Ypsilanti Transit Center and are as follows:

  • Route I: Runs east on Forest Avenue to Ford Boulevard and heads north. The route then goes east on Clark Road before circling around MacArthur Boulevard and Wiard Road, then back to Clark Road.
  • Route J: Serves the East Michigan Avenue corridor, then cuts back west on Holmes Road to Spencer Lane. The route then reconnects with East Michigan Avenue.
  • Route K: Serves Ecorse Road and the West Willow neighborhood.
  • Route L: Serves the Interstate 94 service drive, Harris Road neighborhoods and southeast Grove Road from Harris to the Lakewood Shopping Plaza on Rawsonville Road.
  • Route M: Serves Whittaker Road and stops at the Ypsilanti Township Hall, the Ypsilanti District Library’s main branch, the Paint Creek shopping plaza and residential areas on Huron River Drive, Tuttle Hill and Textile Roads.
  • Route N: Serves the city of Ypsilanti’s south side, West Michigan Avenue, Hewitt Road and Congress Street.
  • Route O: Serves the Ford Boulevard corridor, Harris Road, Grove Road and the southeast section of the city of Ypsilanti.

The plan also expands the “dial-a-ride” program, which allows disabled and senior citizen riders to arrange for a ride to a fixed bus route. Express service to Ann Arbor will also be expanded, and there are plans for a park-and-ride somewhere in the township.

The Board unanimously supported the resolution, but Trustee Stan Eldridge expressed concern over the complexity of an out from the authority should the township ever decide that it doesn't want to be a part of the AAATA any longer.


      AAATA CEO Michael Ford addresses the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees

      Tom Perkins | For

      "Would there be a willingness to amend that?" Eldridge asked AAATA CEO Michael Ford. "I'm just trying to make sure we're protected as a municipality in the future. What's listed here is an extremely difficult process - almost impossible."

      "We can have that discussion," Ford replied.

      When Eldridge asked about the possibility of a millage that would replace the current purchase of service agreement, Ford said there had been some discussion at the AAATA board about that, but the shape of the urban core of municipalities joining the AAATA or signing up for longer contracts is still taking shape and routes and costs are still being determined.

      "Those decisions are premature until we have a nucleus of municipalities," he said.

      "I think we're doing a pretty good job with transportation," Eldridge said. "Again, before anyone misconstrues what I said, I'm in favor of the AAATA expanding transportation, I'm just a little uncomfortable with some things … and I want to make sure we’re doing what's best for our residents first and the rest of the county and region second."

      The Ann Arbor City Council recently approved the City of Ypsilanti’s request to join what was then the AAATA. After Ypsilanti joined, the authority became the AAATA.

      Ypsilanti Township would receive rights granted to members of the authority under Act 55, the state law under which Ann Arbor incorporated the city's transit authority in July 1968.