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Posted on Mon, Apr 9, 2012 : 4:55 p.m.

Ann Arbor schools, WISD seeking feedback on transportation

By Danielle Arndt

Parents of children eligible to ride the bus to attend Ann Arbor Public Schools are invited to participate in a survey critiquing the district's transportation system.

Community members have until Friday to complete the survey (which can be found here). Paper copies were made available at each school’s main office Monday.

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Students board a school bus at Ann Arbor's Thurston Elementary School.

The feedback will be used to help the Washtenaw Intermediate School District provide improved busing for AAPS students, as well as other students in its transportation consortium.

AAPS entered into a consolidated busing system through the WISD with Ypsilanti and Willow Run at the beginning of the 2010-11 academic year. AAPS also implemented a number of route changes, a 1.5-mile walk zone and went to common stops for high-schoolers just last year to further slash costs.

Willow Run and Ypsilanti parents are encouraged to take the WISD's survey as well.

In total, AAPS anticipated it would save $1 million to $1.5 million annually by contracting with the WISD for transportation. However, at a recent Board of Education meeting, Deputy Superintendent of Operations Robert Allen said the actual cost savings for 2011-12 has been closer to $500,000.

Overall, the savings incurred and the customer service Ann Arbor has received from the WISD has disappointed the district’s Board of Education.

The WISD was supposed to present an update to the board following the first year of the consolidated system, but that report has yet to happen, board members said. The district would need to renew its contract with the WISD in May if it wants to continue using the WISD’s service.

A date has been set for the WISD's presentation. It will take place at the board's regular meeting on April 25. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. at the downtown branch of the Ann Arbor District Library.

Ann Arbor administrators have been pursuing other possibilities for busing, Allen said.

Willow Run and Ypsilanti announced in January they would solicit proposals to combine their transportation departments and privatize busing. Ann Arbor contemplated joining their request for proposals but after Ypsilanti and Willow Run disclosed a plan to consolidate school districts, Ann Arbor decided to consider its own request.

Board Trustee Simone Lightfoot would like the district to consider partnering with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority for busing.

Staff reporter Danielle Arndt covers K-12 education for Follow her on Twitter @DanielleArndt or email her at



Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 6:09 p.m.

Since middle school, we have used the student discounted monthly pass card because bus transportation is not available to us at the time we want it to be. Now with the cuts to hi school? AATA is much easier and more direct. I am hearing that WISD will cut hi school and try to involve AATA more.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 3:27 p.m.

@Liz Margolis: Thanks, very much for your reply. Can you please provide us all with more detail about these federal restrictions? I'd like to bring them to the attention of our federal legislators. If some of the information is too lengthy, please feel free to also email me at In Europe and Asia, school children who can't walk, generally ride to school using public transportation or bicycles and it works well.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 10:29 p.m.

@jns131: LOL, I meant if it was too far to walk. Obviously children who can't walk at all need special transportation to and from school.


Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 6:08 p.m.

Question here, but if the children can't walk, how can they ride a bicycle?

Liz Margolis

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 3:07 p.m.

Mr. Ranzini, AAPS has been working with AATA for many years on providing seventh hour bus service via existing AATA routes. AATA has federal restrictions and cannot match the service that is provided to students unless it falls within existing routes. AAPS continues to work with AATA on matching common routes, specifically for high school students, utilizing existing AATA routes for some service. We are planning an initial rollout for the fall.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Tue, Apr 10, 2012 : 11:52 a.m.

Can someone please explain to me why the AATA, which is in the business already of managing, running and repairing busses, would not be able to provide this bus service more efficiently?