Ypsilanti Township to consider significant expansion of bus service
Tom Perkins | For AnnArbor.com
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.