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Posted on Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

AATA extends contract with consultant as work continues on countywide transit expansion

By Ryan J. Stanton

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's governing board voted Tuesday to extend a contract with consultant Steer Davies Gleave as the agency continues to work toward a major expansion of transit services throughout Washtenaw County.

The AATA hired Steer Davies Gleave last year to help craft a countywide transit master plan. Now that the plan is complete, the AATA is extending its contract with the firm through December 2012 to assist with implementation — at a cost not to exceed $193,318.

AATA officials said an extension of the contract will allow for ongoing support to the countywide transit effort, with the firm undertaking the following tasks:


AATA CEO Michael Ford

File photo |

  • Providing support to an ad hoc countywide transit funding task force as it develops recommendations for funding various elements of the transit master plan.
  • Developing "district recommendations" for services, taking into account the particular needs and desires of the various geographic sub-areas of Washtenaw County, including an analysis of the existing providers’ ability to provide the desired services.
  • Undertaking the creation of "service development plans" for specific services as determined by AATA in consultation with the local communities participating in the countywide transit planning process.
  • Undertaking the creation of a "fares and ticketing plan" with two components: a near-term component aimed at rationalizing the current AATA fare structure, and a longer-term component designed to create a countywide fare policy and structure. The long-term work would incorporate changes needed due to any new types of transit services added to the region.
  • Undertaking other studies and planning activities as needed.

The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners is expected to be asked later this year to approve the formation of a new regional transit body known as an Act 196 authority — a multi-jurisdictional agency replacing the AATA, which was chartered in 1969 by the city.

Commissioners also will be asked to approve filing of articles of incorporation for the Act 196 authority, which AATA officials expect to happen in spring 2012.

After the articles of incorporation are filed, the 28 municipalities throughout the county that are being asked to join in as partners will have 30 days to decide to stay in or opt out of both the millage that would fund the Act 196 authority and the services it would provide.

A new board would be responsible for developing and approving bylaws and a services plan for the new authority — as well as a funding plan — before the county board takes action.

The AATA board voted today under a separate resolution to give Chairman Jesse Bernstein authority to appoint three members of the AATA board to the unincorporated Act 196 board. They're expected to represent the interests of the AATA and the citizens of Ann Arbor.

The AATA's plan for an active Act 196 authority includes carrying over seven AATA board members to represent Ann Arbor, with eight spots representing outlying areas of the county.

The AATA board also gave authorization today for CEO Michael Ford to use the resources of the agency, as budgeted by the AATA board, to provide ongoing support to any created unincorporated Act 196 board and to report the concerns, progress, and any accomplishments or opportunities associated with the creation of that entity to the AATA board.

Ford said discussions remain ongoing with local elected officials on establishing an organizational framework and funding base for expanded transportation services.

"We've got a general framework going on and we're digging deeper to work with the communities and just having conversations with them and the providers," Ford said, adding he suspects the unincorporated Act 196 board will be fully in place by this fall.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

They need to concentrate on existing routes, existing problems before they try to service more communities. Like the continuing problem near Arborland. They need to find a way that buses both inbound & outbound can converge at the same spot so riders can safely transfer from one bus to another without fear of getting run over trying to cross Washtenaw Avenue. I read in a past article that they were trying to fix this problem, but that was months ago & I haven't seen any action yet. If they can't fix this one little existing problem I don't hold out much hope for them fixing any problems that expansion would bring.


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 2:42 p.m.

I have to give the AATA. They are deeply committed to stupidity. There is virtually no support outside of Ann Arbor and they keep throwing money away hand over fist. What makes them believe any other political entity in Washtenaw County is going to buy into this? The very fact that they are going to throw away another 200K on a consultant when there is no way a millage will pass county wide merely demonstrates their financial incompetence.

Top Cat

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

They have conjured up a "need" for their service that does not exist. Now, sure as shootin', they are going to fill this need. What is it going to take to stop this folly dead in its tracks ?


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 1:13 p.m.

They have their priorities all screwed up. If I'm running a business, I want to know who will buy my product. No buyers? No business. If the surrounding communities don't want to pony up, then this is a dead horse. I am having a real hard time imagining all these municipalities subsidising this when our closest, and largest one, namely Ypsilanti, can't even come up with their share. There must have been a run on Rose Colored Glasses when this proposal was written.

Homeland Conspiracy

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 12:21 p.m.

All most $200,000.00 WOW!!! I'm in the wrong biz.


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 11:03 a.m.

Where are all the DDA bashers? If the DDA is somehow overstepping their authority and have the audacity to be clinging to their "profits", etc.. Then what about where the AATA is heading trying to morph into a regional authority and trying to oversubsidize "the ride". Ann Arbor tax payers never asked for this agenda (only a small, vocal minority did). It is very telling that Delta airlines announced yesterday that service to 24 small towns will be cut, 16 of which receive federal subsidies. What makes the AATA think they can do better and why am I going to be asked to subsidize part of the commuting costs for someone in Manchester to ride the bus to work in Ann Arbor?


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 4:44 a.m.

I think Aerosmith said it best: "Dream On" AATA will have significant issues to overcome: 1) Getting a county wide tax base. 2) Getting townships and cities in the country to sign on to the plan 3) Setting routes for the rural areas and smaller towns that get ridership 4) Dealing with the ever decreasing snow removal in the winter 5) Finding the capital to start the plan I wish them luck.

Basic Bob

Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 1:26 a.m.

The bus is cheaper than a car, also safer. I would prefer to put my teenagers on a bus than behind the wheel.


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 11:31 a.m.

Exactly! Without effective public transportation, one would need a car for those things. To answer your other question, buses are cheaper for everyone. They decrease fuel consumption, pollution and accidents. If they ever expand bus service out to my wife's job, we will definitely get rid of our car and save a lot of money.


Wed, Jul 20, 2011 : 11:11 a.m.

Cheaper for who? What happens when your teenager becomes an adult and possibly gets jury duty in federal court in downtown Detroit? or needs to go to a job interview in Dearborn? How are they going to get there without a car and how are they going to get on the road driving experience?


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 10:46 p.m.

Another overly ambitious, overreaching government agency/authority spending money likes it's still 2005! Sure the consultant is telling them exactly what they want to hear, that the whole region is just begging to pay even more taxes for door to door bus service. You can pay the consultant all you want, you still won't be able to dig up or get others to cough up the $400-$500 million needed for your so-called "smart" plan.


Tue, Jul 19, 2011 : 10:08 p.m.

I hope this consultant is a little more informed than the one that did the projections for Recycle! But I seriously doubt it. The only sure thing is we will be poorer and the consultant will be richer!