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Posted on Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 5:59 a.m.

Ypsilanti Township to consider significant expansion of bus service

By Tom Perkins


Route 4 buses will see extended hours in Ypsilanti Township under a proposed plan for increased service in the AAATA's "urban core" municipalities.

Tom Perkins | For

Ypsilanti Township is considering joining a proposed “urban core” of municipalities in the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority.

Membership would bring vastly expanded bus service to Ypsilanti Township, including extended hours of service and increased frequency for some existing routes.

Ypsilanti Township Supervisor Brenda Stumbo said the move would have a positive economic impact on the township and its residents.

“Expanded service will be an asset to our residents, community and the county as a whole,” Stumbo said. “We have a need and desire for connectivity to the greater Ann Arbor area and it will provide a choice to our residents for transportation.

"Jobs are the answer to our current economic downturn, and providing the availability of transportation will help towards our goal of creating jobs.”

So far, the City of Ypsilanti has joined the AAATA, and Pittsfield Township and Saline could join as well.

AAATA officials stressed that the proposed changes to their routes are only a draft, though the current proposal has service hours in Ypsilanti Township increasing by 42 percent.

The township currently contracts for service for $306,000 annually. Becoming a member of the AAATA and receiving increased service would increase the price, though AAATA officials say they are still in the process of determining a cost structure.

Route 4, which serves Washtenaw Avenue and is the AAATA’s busiest route, would extend service for an additional hour until 12:30 a.m. on weekdays and service would be extended from 7 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. on Saturdays. On Sunday, Route 4 buses would start 45 minutes earlier at 7:48 a.m. and end at 7:30 p.m., an hour later than they currently stop running.

Route 5, which serves Packard Road, would run for a half hour longer on weekdays until 11:30 p.m. and for four additional hours, until 10:30 p.m., on Saturdays. On Sundays, Route 5 would start a half hour earlier at 8:15 a.m. and run an hour later until 7:15 p.m.

The Route 6 bus on Ellsworth Road would also see similar extended hours and increased frequencies on weekdays.

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.

After AAATA officials gave a presentation on the proposed routes to the Ypsilanti Township Board of Trustees at its Aug. 26 meeting, Trustee Stan Eldridge questioned whether joining the urban core would provide the township with a seat on the authority’s governing board. Michael Benham, the AAATA’s strategic planner, said the township would have to request that and negotiate with the authority.

When the City of Ypsilanti joined, it was granted a seat on the board after it requested one and the board’s size increased from seven to nine members. An Ypsilanti representative took one seat and another seat was provided to the City of Ann Arbor.

The township didn’t take any action, though it will vote on requesting to join the AAATA at a meeting still to be determined.

“It’s important to have as many communities participate as possible,” said AAATA communications manager Mary Stasiak. “It’s good when people are at the table and can be a part of policy and decision making. We’ve been partners (with Ypsilanti Township) for quite a long time and this just makes sense.”

Ypsilanti Township has contracted with the authority since 1983.

“Transportation has been a priority for our township residents and board members for many years,” Stumbo said. “By joining the AAATA Urban Core, which currently includes Ypsilanti City and Ann Arbor, it solidifies the commitment we have had for transportation. We think beyond our borders and this is another step in that direction.”

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



Mon, Sep 2, 2013 : 12:14 p.m.

When will township residents have a chance to vote on whether we should be forced to use tax dollars to subsidize an expensive inter-city bus system? Wait till the taxpayers find out how expensive this extremely limited service will be. 3 milliage incresases, now a bus tax, the county will be increasing taxes in November....


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 10:17 p.m.

I think that this is a terrific idea to expand bus service to the Ypsilanti, township area. The added costs to the township property owners will benefit Washtenaw County's inner area, insuring that people in Ann Arbor will maintain adequate buses at the least possible cost to Ann Arbor property owner. The few people that may take advantage of the expanded services within the township will also appreciate the lift. I for one though would request, and require a trial period to see if the Ypsilanti township residents will take advantage of these services. As a former township resident I saw very little demand for the services in most of the covered area. I would hate to have a long term contract and have to pay for unused service.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 8:01 p.m.

The township needs to make this happen. There are too many people walking Huron River Drive and Whitaker Road at all hours of the day and evening to get to and from the Ypsilanti transit station. There are many in Ypsilanti without vehicles that would shop at the Whitaker Rd. Kroger and other business in the area if they could get there. Winter is coming...sooner than later please.


Sat, Aug 31, 2013 : 10:25 a.m.

If nothing else they can get this moving rather quickly. Just glad to see this finally being done and more construction to build houses in that area as well.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

I have fought long and hard to get a service to Whittaker Road Library. But sadly our child now drives and no longer needs bus service out there. But this will help those who do want to go out there and get this branch busy again. Otherwise, every time I walk in? Dead. This will also help the over crowding at the Michigan. Great news to hear.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

I bet service to Detroit's professional sports ghetto on gameday would be popular. The stadiums and arena are all within a few blocks, so you could use the same stop for any sport. Make the service express A-to-B and I don't think the other transportation authorities would have a beef.

Mark Truna

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

It would be nice if there was a route somewhere on South Huron just south of I-94. Probably won't ever happen though.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 7:18 p.m.

That is the one they are talking about. This would be a commuter bus to Ypsilanti and all points west to Ann Arbor. Would take a load off the roads.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

I would assume that the proposed "Route M" would be the route that would service S Huron.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

I have learned that the Ann Arbor City Council has no actual voice in whether any more communities join the AAATA. Apparently that vote at Council for Ypsilanti City to join was merely a courtesy. (The Ypsilanti City vote was real - they had to adopt the Articles of Incorporation.)

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 8:32 p.m.

They have all the votes, save one. Of course they have a voice.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 4:15 p.m.

But I do believe that the mayor has last say on AAATA actions including the ability to veto spending decisions. He can also replace members if they are not performing in Ann Arbor's best interest. City Council could resolve to encourage the mayor to provide specific instructions to the AAATA. No government agency should have unrestricted powers and ultimately should answer to the electorate even if it is through the mayor.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 12:50 p.m.

That's the trouble with un-elected taxing authorities. We are at the mercy of the appointed.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

Hopefully they are considering coming up with money so Ann Arbor doesn't pay for them as well as Ypsi. This back-door baloney is ridiculous.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 11:55 a.m.

"So far, the City of Ypsilanti has joined the AAATA, and Pittsfield Township and Saline could join as well." Apparently, those officials who wanted the "4 Party Ride Washtenaw Transit Authority" that fell apart previously due to citizen opposition is being pieced together in a way that is circumventing the wishes of Ann Arbor tax payers. The problem with adding other communities is that the cost of establishing and expanding services to these new areas will be disproportionately born by Ann Arbor tax payers. If our AATA millage is not increased then the millage money presently being collected will be diverted from use in Ann Arbor to funding services in Ypsilanti, Pittsfield Township, Saline and any other communities added later. Thus, county-wide service that certain government officials strongly favor but which was rejected by Ann Arbor tax payers, is evolving anyway. AATA needs to base services on demand and the amount of bus service between Ann Arbor and Pittsfield Township and between Ann Arbor and Saline has not have been determined. Until the need for service along bus routes to these two additional areas matches that of Ann Arbor bus routes, the AAATA should provide bus service using "point-of-service" (POS) contracts, which are being used now. Subsidizing bus service locally using millage money was voted on by Ann Arbor tax payers. Before these funds are also used to finance bus service to our neighbors, Ann Arbor tax payers should be given a voting opportunity to accept the diversion of our millage funds which will result in reduction of our own services. Everyone should contact their City Council representatives and instruct them to oppose the plan to expand AAATA bus service to communities outside of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 8:38 p.m.

Voters are not always right. There are not enough willing workers in Ann Arbor to fill the jobs, and there are a large number of willing workers just a few miles southeast who can't afford reliable and legal transportation.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 7:20 p.m.

They really have no choice in the matter. Ann Arbor residents or otherwise. The reason being is the 5 year plan to eliminate high school busing completely. Right now there are only 7 high school buses out of Pioneer that I know of and that is a cut from 10 last year and 10 more the previous year. AATA and AAPS are in cahoots to do away with high busing completely. WISD wants to do more with special ed. So, for now? Get use to the fact that Ann Arbor residents have no say when it comes to new buses and routing. Unless you want to end the AAPS system.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 4:06 p.m.

YpsiLarry - For many who work in downtown Ann Arbor but live in Ypsilanti, their bus transportation could cost only $10 per year if they are eligible for a go!pass card. The difference between this trivial amount of cash and the potential annual cost of $696 for a monthly bus pass is subsidized by parking lot fees and the AATA millage which Ann Arborites pay. If bus service both ways to outlying communities are heavily used by commuters then some amount of subsidization is warranted. However, if buses traveling to Pittsfield Township and to Saline are mostly empty, then the cost of maintaining such a service is a waste of money. And believe me Ann Arbor tax payers have a heavy tax burden already and do not deserve to pay more for services that are not used or are grossly underutilized.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 1:36 p.m.

Since the restricted availability of low income housing and higher cost of living in Ann Arbor has pushed the low wage labor pool out to communities like Ypsilanti City and Township it is entirely appropriate for Ann Arbor to share the cost for extending bus service to those communities. The costs of the Aspenization of Ann Arbor should not be borne by communities already struggling financially. We should pay part of the the cost since some of the bus use is within Ypsi and Ypsi Twp.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 11:14 a.m.

Go go for it! The more places the bus goes and the more hours it goes there, the more people will ride.

Rob MI

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 6:12 p.m.

Not necessarily. If service is only once an hour and the same level of hours provided on the main routes between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti isn't maintained on these Ypsi-only routes, I won't be jumping on the bus any time soon.

Steve Hendel

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 5:21 p.m.

@Krono-you state: "@Steve Hendel: we know this because it has been proven in every other area with public transportation systems. " Can you document this rather expansive claim? In EVERY OTHER area? If so, why are so many AAATA buses running around close to empty?


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 4:24 p.m.

Crono - I doubt people will decide to drive their cars down a certain route just because it has added a lane and traffic may be reduced. Most people do not just joy ride but travel to go from one specific place to another. The route that the driver selects will have certain conveniences absent from alternative routes if there are alternative routes. People who need to go somewhere will find a way even if bus service is not available. It is unlikely that new bus service to outlying county areas will generate enough interest to make the bus service financially viable. But then I know of no study to support or refute my opinion, and that in itself is a problem.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

@Steve Hendel: we know this because it has been proven in every other area with public transportation systems. Also, your "build it and they will come" scenario plays out everytime a new lane of freeway is built: it doesn't relieve traffic congestion - it simply invites more people to get in their car and go.

Steve Hendel

Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 11:36 a.m.

And you know "Build it and they will come" is not a good philosophy when spending tax monies.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 11:10 a.m.

We need a new route that goes to 14-B.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 3:52 p.m.

Now I see that Route M would go to Township Hall, which will help tremendously.


Fri, Aug 30, 2013 : 3:50 p.m.

I couldn't agree more. I represent a lot of tenants at court there and they have a very hard time getting to court if no car or ride.