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Posted on Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

New analysis makes case that Ann Arbor has enough density to support high-capacity transit

By Ryan J. Stanton

Roger Hewitt says he's heard the argument that Ann Arbor is too small to be talking about bigger-city transit options like light rail, streetcars and bus rapid transit.

Hewitt, a downtown business owner and treasurer for the Downtown Development Authority, says a new analysis of population and employment density says something different, though.

While the city's population remains at roughly 114,000, there are tens of thousands of additional people who make the daily commute to work in Ann Arbor.


The study area for the Ann Arbor Connector, extending from northeast Ann Arbor down to Briarwood Mall.

Image courtesy of URS Corp.

As part of the Ann Arbor Connector study that's looking at options for a new high-capacity transit network, one of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's consultants, URS Corp., compared Ann Arbor with 12 other communities, nine of which have some form of a mass transit system.

Those include Cleveland, Eugene, Ore., Jacksonville, Fla., Little Rock, New Orleans, Norfolk, Va., Portland, Salt Lake City and Tacoma.

The other communities examined are Lansing, Grand Rapids and Fort Collins, Co., which have advanced transit systems in the planning stages right now, Hewitt said.

"With the exception of Lansing, all of these cities are larger or quite a bit larger population-wise," he said. "But they dug a little deeper and looked at the population per square mile — the population density. And if you look at all of those, Ann Arbor ranks fourth on that list for population density."

Going a little farther, Hewitt said, looking at employment density — how many people are employed per square mile — Ann Arbor is first among all those cities.

"We have 3,800 people working per square mile in this city," he said. "The next closest one is Cleveland at about 3,300, and then it drops down to about 2,500 and lower."

Hewitt's conclusion: Ann Arbor, although it is small geographically in size, is pretty dense in population and extremely dense in jobs.

"Which is the answer to why you need a transit system like this," he said of the Ann Arbor Connector. "We have a lot of activity, both in population and jobs, and moving people around and finding places for people to park is going to become increasingly difficult."

The Ann Arbor Connector initiative is focused on a boomerang-shaped area extending from northeast to south Ann Arbor, connecting major destinations, including downtown, University of Michigan's north and central campuses, the university medical center and commercial areas.


This example of bus rapid transit on 34th Street in Manhattan was included in a recent presentation on the Ann Arbor Connector.

URS Corp.

A series of drop-in events were held in December as part of a $1.5 million study that's taking place through early 2014. About 275 people participated, and 40 percent of those surveyed chose light rail/streetcars as their preferred method of travel for the Connector, while 22 percent chose automated guideway (monorail), 21 percent chose bus rapid transit, and 17 percent chose normal buses.

AATA board member Jesse Bernstein, former chairman of the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce, said he's personally excited about the possibility of bus rapid transit.

"The buses you use in bus rapid transit are large, and they're articulated so they bend in the middle, so they can get around corners," he said. "But what that means is we could run them on dedicated lanes that are at grade or above, and they could run on regular roads when it's less dense, so there's just a lot of options. Plus it's going to be cheaper than putting in fixed rail."

Bernstein said the type of vehicles used for bus rapid transit are essentially "rubber-tired trains," and Brazil is a good example of where they work well.

"They have the buses lined up, and as they fill up going into town, they just shoot another bus down the line," he said. "So I think there's a lot that corridor can do. I think we could do something really exciting, and it's years away. We're not going to have this tomorrow."


This example of a streetcar in Tacoma was included in a recent presentation on the Ann Arbor Connector.

URS Corp.

The city of Ann Arbor, AATA, DDA and U-M collaborated on a study that previously concluded a high-capacity transit service is feasible, demand along the corridor is sufficient, and technologies such as streetcars, bus rapid transit, light rail or even a monorail could be used.

The project is now in the alternatives analysis stage, where community input is needed to determine a locally preferred alternative. That includes specifying the type of transit technology to be used, service levels, route alignments, station locations and cost estimates.

The next set of public meetings as part of the alternative analysis phase will be in April, though dates haven't been announced yet.

Ann Arbor resident Rita Mitchell, who has been following the process and attended one of the drop-in sessions in December, said it's good to reduce the number of cars on the road in Ann Arbor. She'd prefer to see bus rapid transit service the city by connecting to park-and-ride lots.

"Even potentially considering parking structures being built at those locations and to serve those with really excellent bus service or really excellent transit service," she said. "I would not want any system to move in and plop a station in a park, and I believe one of the stations is along Fuller Road and potentially in Fuller Park, so I would resist that, as I have resisted a train station being built there."


An example of a monorail in Las Vegas.

URS Corp.

Mitchell said she's not sold on some of the higher-intensity solutions such as streetcars, light rail or a monorail, which she believes could overwhelm the city and would be too costly.

While Ann Arbor might have a high employment density, Mitchell said she doesn't think the city has a large enough tax base.

"I certainly prefer something that is least cost, possibly something that could be tested, and that's why at this point I would probably lean toward bus rapid transit," she said.

Bernstein said he agrees with the analysis that Ann Arbor has the population and employment density along the corridor to justify investment in advanced transit technologies.

"When you look at the corridor that's outlined, you can start with Domino's Farms — a million square feet of office space," he said. "The East Medical Campus — thousands of square feet of office space and growing. You come down through the Plymouth Road/Green Road collection of hotels and shops into North Campus and the North Campus Research Complex — that is very dense.

"And then you come to the hospital, you come down through main campus, so I could see where the density is there," he continued. "The transit corridor makes a great deal of sense, and the way we're going about talking to people, having open discussions, looking at options, is the way to go."


The timeline for the Ann Arbor Connector alternatives analysis. The yellow triangles note the timing of planned community workshops.

URS Corp.

City Council Member Sumi Kailasapathy, D-1st Ward, said it would be premature for her to form an opinion before the study has been completed, but she's among those concerned the city and its partners are taking on too many transit-related projects simultaneously.

"The Connector study is just one of the many transit issues currently being discussed," she said. "We have just emerged from a failed effort to create a countywide transit authority. The AATA seems intent on expanding service beyond Ann Arbor to the adjoining urban areas."

Additional, a new four-county Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority is just being formed, and Kailasapathy believes that eventually will have an impact on transit in Ann Arbor.

And there are plans for two commuter rail lines from Ann Arbor to Detroit and from Howell to Ann Arbor.

"I think my view on the Connector plans will be affected by the developments of all of these proposals," she said. "I am mostly concerned about how we will pay for any of the proposed services, and cannot understand how all of them can be afforded at the same time."

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 email newsletters.



Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

Seriously just expand the busses we have. We need weekend transit the most right now. A lot of people can't work weekends because the busses stop way too early and don't come at very convenient times.


Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

OK, I'm a lazy winter hating seat warmer loving car girl. But. When I went to school downtown I actually DID use the Park and Ride bus. Why? Because it was free AND I could sit in my car until the bus came when it was cold/raining/snowing/dark out in the morning which is like more than half the year! Add more Park and Ride buses! Make it warm and pregnant lady/old lady friendly and we will use it. Who wants to stand in the rain? Wrecks your hair and your shoes. And a bus stop is no place for a stroller. Other wonderful ideas: have ample parking at free out in the countryside university subsidized for staff and students day care centers near dexter, chelsea, brighton, canton, ypsi, milan and saline and a free commuter bus that picks up/drops off from day care to go to campus. Instead of building parking garages build day care centers! Staff pays like $900 to park/yr couldn't that money go toward something more useful and personally beneficial? House kids not cars.

Steve Bean

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 9:35 p.m.

A BRT system would be viable for another 5-10 years but not beyond that absent a locally sourced biodiesel supply. Even then, asphalt won't be available either and maintaining roads likely won't be possible. Other large infrastructure investments would be wasted unless, like a JPods system, for example, they are efficient enough and run on electricity that is renewably supplied (by solar panels covering the elevated rail line, for example). Supplying enough power for heavier trains or streetcars might not be possible. In other words, these are probably unrealistic plans for an unrealistic future. We have much to prepare for, and this project won't particularly help.


Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

Whew! Is it breathtaking prescience or breathtaking hubris?!? I would bet on the latter, in your case. You should go down to Hieftje Hall and join Hizzoner God, who thinks he knows all, and sees all. The sky isn't falling, Chicken Little - I'm sure all us mere mortals will muddle through, and life will go on. Breathtaking -- just breathtaking!

Steve Bean

Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 7:07 p.m.

Peak oil is simply a phenomenon that all limited resources go through. The US went through it, as have almost all oil producing countries at this point. The same will be true for natural gas and coal. We won't have to wait long to start to see evidence of the scenario I'm describing. Watch the markets begin to drop in the next week or so, continuing for the next several years with relatively brief corrections. As the economy declines in response, incentives for further oil and gas exploration and drilling will dry up.


Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 6:11 p.m.

IMHO, your assumptions, analysis, and conclusions, are all WAY off-base - and I suspect the passage of time will also prove them incorrect. Like you, I have both studied and worked in areas related to finance and energy, and have lived long enough to have seen a few business cycles come and go. If you truly believe that roads and asphalt will be impossible to maintain in 5-10 years, I think you are nuts. Peak oil is a pipe dream.

Steve Bean

Sun, Mar 10, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Yes, based on many years of study of energy issues and, more recently, global finance, this is what I believe to be the most likely scenario. Sharing the basis for my beliefs would take many pages, but I'd be happy to respond to specific questions.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

Spoken like a true believer... like you really know what is and isn't going to be possible in the future. Been speaking to the Almighty a lot lately?? Did he tell you to believe your own BS?

Roger Kuhlman

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 3:47 p.m.

Does anyone really want more local transportation options like the bus service run by AATA where riders pay for 22% of the cost of operations and taxpayers pick up the rest of the cost?


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 10:18 p.m.

Check with your congressmen/women and find out how much money is coming from washington for this"deal! !"

Linda Peck

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

This attitude reminds me of pushing the dirt under the rug and calling the room tidy. Perhaps dreams of grandeur are a distraction from the problem we have of dreadful road conditions in the City of Ann Arbor.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 12:55 p.m.

If you have no vision for the future, then the past is your future. When rail travel spread like an epidemic across England in the 1840's it completely changed their society and the world. The original intent was to move coal from Manchester to Liverpool but it proved much more lucrative to haul people. Some god-fearing spokespersons who saw or read about the first locomotives going 20 mph claimed it was devil's work like many here accuse Mayor Hieftje of being maniacal and devilish. Apparently we will always be afflicted with naysayers. One of the first locomotive designers of 1830 came to the US and designed the ironclad Monitor. Perhaps someone else would have designed it if not Ericsson, perhaps not. He was Swedish by the way and adopted this country as his own because there was a future vision here. I whole-heartedly support a partnership with the University as the early railroads were a partnership of many interested parties including businesses, parliament, and wealthy land owners. I'd also point out that there is no zoning for park land, it's zoned public. This religious crusade against using public land for public purposes is as futile as the crusade to occupy Jerusalem. Ann Arbor residents should just accept that the UM Medical center is more important to the world than the rest of Ann Arbor. This childish attitude of protecting what's mine from the big bad giant is tiresome.

Nancy Shiffler

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 7:13 p.m.

When parkland is acquired via a millage voted on by the public, we have a right to expect that it will be used as parkland. When parkland use is defined and planned for in the city's Parks Plan we have an expectation that those plans will be carried out.

Roger Kuhlman

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 3:54 p.m.

But rail traffic and streetcars have been around for over a century. Now all sudden today we discover they are miracle cheap and efficient forms of transportation. I am not buying it. Is anyone else buying it?


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Your right about one thing, early railroads were a partnership of the wealthy, which exploited the labor resources of the poor and immigrants, for the benefit of the wealthy. Maybe that IS a good analogy for our local mass transit planning.

Jay Thomas

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 4:30 a.m.

Please tell me that the purpose of this is not for the AATA to shoulder the transportation burden that U of M currently pays to move people from campus to campus. Looks like the same route and the U has a budget a zillion times more than the AATA.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

How rapid of a transit can a bus possibly make, from Briarwood to Medical Center East, if it shares the same roads, and therefore the same 23 traffic lights, as the rest of us? The dedicated transportation shown in the URS photos represent situations that do not exist in Ann Arbor. The Las Vegas monorail runs in an essentially straight line through parking lots connecting casinos and pedestrian platforms, so tourists won't have to walk in the heat. The 34th Street buses are to be given lanes to existing wide roads, and 300,000 people live within a half mile of the lanes, and they serve some of busiest transportation hubs in the world including Penn Station and Jacob Javits Convention Center. URS is a for profit company that seems to make a good deal of its earnings by providing studies for various government agencies, especially the military and homeland security apparatus. This is not to say their information is not accurate, just wanted to point out that they are in the business of providing answers that customers pay for. It's a safe bet that a citizen group could pay them to provide a study describing the reasons rapid mass transit was not practical in Ann Arbor, and get a report suggesting it is indeed not.

Dog Guy

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 10:40 p.m.

Of course Ann Arbor has enough density to support high-capacity transit. Ann Arbor puts up with these politicos and their appointees and cronies which is unthinkably dense. The entire purpose of mass transit is to have taxes evaporate to then condense on cool people. There is no need for any actaul transportation machinery as frequent "studies" do the job of making friends wealthy.

Jay Thomas

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 4:32 a.m.

Can I study this plan? Throw me a bone.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 10:13 p.m.

Didn't the high school just cut bus services due to budget constraints!?! Solution = monrail!

Sam S Smith

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

Gosh if bus service was cancelled due to budget constraints what makes you think there's money for a monorail and maintenance?


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 8:58 p.m.

Hang on to your wallet - those pickpockets from the DDA and Hieftje Hall are at it again!! How many times do taxpayers have to beat this monster over the head before it dies?! Abolishing the DDA would be a good place to start. A new mayor, sans agenda, would also help.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 9:23 p.m.

Have voted for them whenever a viable one appears, including one at the ward level, with a name not unlike your own. Good candidates for mayor seem hard to find, let alone support.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

Oh how I wish someone decent would run against the current mayor in the next election...

John Floyd

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Are you prepared to do the work of supporting replacement candidates?

Irwin Daniels

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 7:32 p.m.

I live on Geddes Ave - the bus we have is #14 stops running about 6:30 PM and is not working during the weekends. This is a big reason I don't use the AATA; this bus used to run later in the day (that worked for me and others). You should have a "plan" that works and what we have now fails (in my opinion).

Jaime Magiera

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 6:09 p.m.

It should be pointed out that autonomous cars are on the horizon. States have already started licensing them. In fact, there was test here in Ann arbor a few months ago of a large autonomous car system. U.S. citizens are addicted to the feeling of driving and being in control. For efficiency, security and safety's sake, that is going to change. The way forward is mass transit systems. Did you notice that developers just got an OK by the city to build another large housing building next to Pizza House? The downtown population density is going to continue increasing. There are not enough resources and not enough space to support all of these people having cars. There is not enough business space in the immediate downtown to support the consumer needs of all these people. All of these things point to a single, unavoidable conclusion. We either pay for it now and do it right, or we suffer a far worse fate.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 7:08 a.m.

Jaime Magiera -- Apparently, you do not realize that most of these new highrise buildings are student residence halls. Although occupancy of previously built student housing is reportedly high, the supply of students able to afford luxury rental rates may be exhausted as new construction is complete. The University's efforts to reduce the size of future admission classes will not help populate these buildings. Students are transients and will not come here because of jobs nor will they create jobs. And when they graduate most will leave Ann Arbor. SEMCOG predicts minimal city population and job growth over the next ten years. Future prospects does not warrant a change in our presently adequate bus transportation system.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 9:18 p.m.

And the far worse fate is?... A slight slowdown in consumerism and population growth? Lower taxes?


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:31 p.m.

There is an old quote, ascribed to Mark Twain: "There are lies, there are damn lies, and there are statistics". The cherry-picking of statistics in this story leaves me thoroughly unimpressed and a tad suspicious (as I have some professional knowledge of statistics). Density is an area concept. Rapid transit is linear. Looking at population density and business density disjointedly has no relevance. What matters is how many people both live and work along a specific proposed transportation corridor.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 8 p.m.

We are also #1 in terms of high tech workers per cubic furlong.

sandy schopbach

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:14 p.m.

A tram/streetcar would be best in terms of pollution and noise. And it would need to service any future train station because taking the train but then being stranded far from your destination would limit ridership on the train. It would also, as the article says, need to service park-and-ride lots.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

Doesn't the AATA plus the UMich buses already serve this? I don't see why anything else has to be done. If things get crowded such that more people will use buses, then more people will use buses. Not sure why we have to figure out how to spend more money on this right now....


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

Because they haven't spent millions and millions and millions of dollars on an unjustified project in like 3 weeks. if they don't spend more than they need, people will start wondering why their property taxes go up.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

As long as the WALLY boondoggle is still in the discussion, we know the proponents are hopelessly corrupt. Because there's no way to massage those reports to make it look like anything other than pure corruption to even continue studying that plan. Look at the highways around Portland and Salt Lake City. They support commuting. Our highways are on road diets.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

Here's a recent presentation on the Ann Arbor Connector project


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

a) Consultants are usually a waste of money, b) the DDA is a total waste of time and money

Alan Benard

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:14 p.m.

The only thing standing in the way of Ann Arbor becoming a truly great city and filling Michigan's need for a functioning big city is those certain Ann Arbor citizens who profit from the status quo. No reason why they should prosper at everyone eles's expense.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:12 p.m.

The results are skewed to reelect the DDA and AATA interest. The notion of "need" is one the interested parties conjured. The need however is not to invest in fixed expensive infrastructure that cannot change as demographics change. This type of transit ends up being more expensive in fixed cost as well as user cost.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:11 p.m.

Let's wait and see how the mass transit options work out for Lansing and Grand Rapids. If they work well, then in a number of years hopefully we'll be in a better financial position to consider improvements to our mass transit plan, and we can do even better by learning from their experiences. In the meantime, let's just fix the roads.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:42 p.m.

Who are you calling dense? Do we bend light?


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

I am starting to think that they are just going to avoid fixing any roads until it gets to the point that a monorail is the only acceptable form of travel, leaving us with mashed concrete below.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 10:17 p.m.

Amen brother! Let's fund a study with some consultants that can show pictures of monorails... meanwhile Huron St crumbles into pothole hell. PRIORITIES... maybe we need some more art?


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:39 p.m.

Enough density for advanced transit, but not enough density to prevent Jackson Ave being shrunk to two lanes.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Its crazy how long this report takes to finish. More than TWO YEARS. That is amazingly terrible. Also, if AA is ever going to have something like this, it will need to have major funding from the private sector (and the University). Look to the M1 rail in Detroit- it is only going forward because it is largely privately funded.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

Noooo! Ann Arbor does not need high capacity transit! High capacity transit systems like rail and dedicated bus lanes are barely viable in large metropolitan areas, and would just prove to be a giant sinkhole for tax dollars and/or require fares so high they discourage ridership. I understand that A2 has a high population density, but density is a function of population size and area. Having a small(er) population and high density means we have a smaller area that most of the other comparative cities in the study. Therefore, A2 should be focusing on smaller area solutions, like increasing walk-ability and bike-ability, and expanding existing transit systems. I, for one, would rather A2 work on expanding sidewalks (my closest AATA bus stop is on the side of a road without a sidewalk...not user friendly!) and moving beyond the hub-and-spoke bus model before sinking billions of dollars into overblown transit solutions.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:07 p.m.

This also makes more sense - even places like LA still seem to struggle with mass transit, and the population density is so much higher! NYC is a great example of mass transit, but I think smaller more flexible systems such as additional busses or alternative fuel hybrid busses and better bike lanes are more affordable and can be scaled at will.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:28 p.m.

Sounds like the DDA is getting desperate. Tapping, tapping, who is that tapping upon my 150 S. Fifth Ave. door? Ann Arbor could gain 40,000 people, or try something more radical like zero population growth (ZPG). Sometimes called "sustainability" by intelligent planners. The scourge of overpopulation for overbuilding for more profit has done been run outta town on a rail, Mr. Mayor. 2012 GDP was 2.2%. The last quarter was only 0.1% (revised up from -0.1% a recession). The NY Times says business have had job openings but aren't filling them. They are waiting. The stock market is at record highs for no sane reason other than empty short investment. With the snowball effect of cutting government spending and the fierce infighting for revenue workers will be looking for safe havens. 40,000 will "think" about moving here. Health care, autos, software, and education might sustain a starving wage workforce in this area - for a bit longer than most.. Obama's lobby call for immigration reform is about the extent of his fixing the economy. Government will offer no dollar bailout for the corporate profit pyramid scheme this time around. The U may finally be moving hospital operations out to Plymouth/Earhart and a connector would be nice for the doctors having to zip between those two centers. The white coats are maybe a big elephant holding up hospital relocation. And out to Briarwood? Ohhh, you mean Briarwood - the football stadium and hotels. Got it. In which case the UM can pay for all of it. Ask them again in fy 2014. The economic impetus for this may change their mind.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

a bold ann arbor mass transit project could stimulate growth of the economy in michigan, build it and they will come! ann arbor is on the verge of becoming a legitimate city, not just a college town.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 6:53 a.m.

A"bold ann arbor mass transit project" would not improve the convenience of travel over the present bus system nor reduce the time necessary to travel between different parts of Ann Arbor. However, dedicated bus lanes or lanes for trolleys or light rail will increase automobile congestion and extend commuter time. A truly unbiased cost-benefit analysis of the mentioned alternative transportation systems will not favor their construction.

David Cahill

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:58 p.m.

Kailasapathy makes some valid points. I join other commenters in not being too impressed with a study paid for by those with a vested interest in more transit.

Liliana Holtzman

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:56 p.m.

Please make it so! High capacity transit would make our town an even better place to live.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:55 p.m.

Actually, the study cited is not "new". I think you will find that these are conclusions from the original Feasibility Study, issued in 2011. The current study underway is to determine routes and mode (light rail, bus, etc.) No conclusions yet.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

Roger Hewitt said this is from a new analysis being done, and when I asked the AATA and URS for a copy of the full report the other day, the AATA's Chris White told me the analysis still is in the process of being completed and it will be part of the public information provided in April.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

I'm still not aware of the study you cite but you'll get no argument from me that the Fuller Station is completely unjustified. Note that the connector system assumes there will be a station at the Fuller location.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:48 p.m.

The reason the Fuller station was a "Proof" project was that a feasibility study resulted in the station NOT being feasible. This was around 2007 I believe. That's ONE of the reasons the whole Fuller station thing is so enraging; they ignore studies about the station itself, but somehow use other, unrelated and OLDER studies to keep forging ahead.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:04 p.m.

Clarify? Which train station? I don't recall the study you are citing. When was that, approximately? When I say "which" train station, I am acknowledging that AATA is now moving ahead with design and siting for a DOWNTOWN WALLY station, even though WALLY has no funding and no current access to those tracks.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:44 p.m.

So what was the study that resulted in the new train station NOT being funded because it was NOT feasible based on ridership? The one they ignored and decided to disprove by building the station anyway as a "proof project?"


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

I for one am insulted that Mr Hewitt thinks the people of this town are so stupid that we do not realize that ANYONE can commission a "study" to achieve the outcome they desire! But then the people of this town keep putting czars like this in position to lead the sheep.

Sam S Smith

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:53 p.m.

"While Ann Arbor might have a high employment density, Mitchell said she doesn't think the city has a large enough tax base." I'm all for addressing transportation but when Ann Arbor is expected to foot the bill...


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

How about we don't sell the city owned surface lot next to the AATA Depot, on Fifth and William, just in case we do want to do some type of road-based mass transit in the future, when it is more necessary? Then we will have that space as a second downtown terminal, or transit exchange, or anything more useful than a DDA approved mixed use tower. Because once it is gone to private development, it is gone forever. Cancel that broker, we want to keep that space for future transit expansion.

Nicholas Urfe

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

"Hewitt, a downtown business owner and treasurer for the Downtown Development Authority" Could there possibly be a more biased source? Buses work. Hybrid buses work. Electric buses work. Everything else is just hype. Very, very expensive hype.

Sam S Smith

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:54 p.m.

Great post! Thank you!


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

If there is projected to be enough ridership to support these new transit systems (which I seriously doubt), why does AATA keep cutting routes due to low ridership? The cities in the study are much larger with far greater populations in the cities themselves and the surrounding areas, and even some of those cities are cutting back on routes, such as Portland, OR. Just because something is cool doesn't make it practical for a small, midwestern city such as AA. How about increasing the routes on the AATA before launching into yet another transit project that likely doesn't have the ridership to support it. I agree with other posters that the roads in the AA area are not adequate for dedicated bus lanes. Oh, and by they way, how about FIXING the roads? The potholes are awful and the crumbling roadways are hardly a platform for new mass transit projects. If UM has specific needs for their employees who commute, let them fund more buses and whatever commuter systems they think they need. AA taxpayers should not be expected to pay for UM commuters. By the way, my relatives who live in Minneapolis tell me that rapid transit buses in their dedicated bus lanes still get stuck when there are snow storms, congestion and road accidents. By the way, the light rail there is underutilized due to the very limited route. AA would be better served to restore the AATA routes that have been cut and fixing the roads.

Sam S Smith

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:15 p.m.

Ann Arbor will not fix the roads and the roads will go beyond repair. Hence, the new argument for this mega mass transit mess!


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:30 p.m.

Sumi K. is a voice of reason. Wish she was my rep. on council!

Sam S Smith

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

Totally agree! Thank you Sumi Kailasapathy!

Steven Taylor

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:29 p.m.

Sounds like he's got a biased opinion from the get-go.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:02 p.m.

IF the economy were great, and IF unemployment were low, I'd love to see something like this happen. I wouldn't even mind paying a bit more in taxes for it. However...

G. Orwell

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:59 p.m.

Compared to numerous other cities in the US and overseas, Ann Arbor's traffic problems are very, very mild. Try driving in LA, San Francisco, Washington DC, etc. Cities overseas are even worse. So, why is the city of AA making such a big deal about traffic congestion when it is not that bad? I guess they need to create a problem that does not exist in order to justify spending more money. You have to keep all those consultants and board members happy with fat pay checks. I've driven in some of these cities. It could take as long as an hour to drive two miles during rush hour. Let's find inexpensive and practical means to improving traffic flow in AA. First, fix the roads!


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:07 p.m.

CALL a FREE TAXI for research STUDY and then we find out which way to go .ralety is better then a study.THE GOLDEN SPIKE been under study for over 30 years>that is ann arbor to brighton..

Dirty Mouth

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

Returning a streetcar system to Ann Arbor and moving parking structures outside of the downtown, yet connecting them via streetcar lines to the downtown, would be a very effective way to providing clean and safe mass transit to all city residence. Think of all the buildings the DDA could build by removing all of the ugly parking structures from the downtown?

Dirty Mouth

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

I think using prime real estate for parking is borderline criminal. Maybe I'm nuts, but parking structures should be on the the outskirts, on useless parcels and the downtown developed. At a bare minimum downtown structures should be underground as they've started to do with the Fifth avenue underground structure. Besides, existing structures like the one on Fourth Ave. and Williams will come down soon enough on their own given the poor state many of them are in. As to the "failure" of Streetcars, they were removed because folks (wrongly) believed the city needed to modernize by celebrating the automobile. Yeah, it was a mistake and if you want to see an excellent case of a city dying, go to Detroit and see for yourself how a city can strangle itself to death without a mass transit system. But, more importantly, tell us how have streetcars "failed" in other cities of the same size like Ann Arbor? I would love to see your data or review a case study that says a mass transit system like Streetcars are bad for cities!

John of Saline

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 7:25 p.m.

Slowly, carefully.

Steve Hendel

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

Huh? How do you move a parking structure?

Steven Taylor

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:45 p.m.

You seem to forget that the streetcar system FAILED in approximately 1924, because of the proliferation of automobiles which were more convenient and didn't have to follow a fixed path. America is not Europe.. and A2 certainly isn't. and fixed transit systems beyond the current AATA system are useless financial drains on the tax payer. I can point to cities like Charlotte, NC with a boondoggle light rail just over 7.5 miles long.... or more locally the Detroit People mover as prime examples. As many have commented here. .Even a majority of the busses can be found at less than capacity.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

Here's the 2040 population and employment growth forecast put out by SEMCOG: It shows our population growing by nearly 40,000 people, our household count growing by more than 27,000, and nearly 49,000 new jobs. What do your predictions? Are these high, low or spot on?

Steve Bean

Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 9:18 p.m.

Thanks, Vivienne. Ryan, not a chance of any significant increase by 2040. World population will be declining by then, possibly beginning a decade earlier. US numbers will begin declining sooner and Michigan will only continue the decline that has already begun, with a possible, small bump from youngsters and oldsters moving in with empty nesters during the coming depression. After that, while household size will continue to increase, the decline in cheap energy supplies will ensure that the only possibility for population increase in Michigan will be migrants from the desert southwest.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 6:40 a.m.

Ryan, What method did SEMCOG use to make their population and employment predictions? Can you find and publish SEMCOG's prediction from 2005 or 2006 for population and job growth over the next five to ten years? How accurate were those projections which could not anticipate the financial disaster in 2007-2008? Likewise SEMCOG cannot anticipate other unexpected developments that can greatly effect population and job growth. My crystal ball shows different population and job growth numbers than SEMCOG provides. How will you prove that my numbers are wrong?

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 8:04 p.m.

By the way, the Washtenaw County projection is, as you stated, for 40,000 more people but 49,000 more jobs. I guess that we can assume some of those workers are from other counties. But if you look at the summary page for the region (a couple of pages down in this report) you'll see that population is projected to drop or be level until 2025. Employment, in contrast, is shown as a straight-up 45-degree line starting almost immediately. The projections do not jibe with one another. The greatest increase in our own population is for those over 64 (75+ is especially large, percentagewise). Looks as though people really will be putting off retirement until later.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 7 p.m.

This illustrates the importance of reading beyond just the summary numbers. Here is what the introduction to the SEMCOG Regional Forecast says: " Accelerating growth in the over-65 population and low in-migration rates for young adults will limit the region's ability to expand, and these demographics will hang over the longer-term renewal of the economy." Look at the chart you have referenced. It shows a loss of nearly 2,000 (3.9%) in the age 25-34 range, and a gain of nearly 20,000 (96%) in age range 65-74. Will the "golden agers" need a rapid transit system through the heart of the city? No, they'll need consistent transit throughout the city. The report shows a modest gain in many areas of employment (loss in manufacturing) but an increase of 19,000 jobs (2/5 of the total increase) in private education and healthcare. These are likely a reflection of projections from the UM system. SEMCOG assembles data from various employers and uses these to make its projections.

Steve Hendel

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

Amen to that, David. No one ever calls them to account, either .

David Cahill

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:04 p.m.

Ryan, check out the track record of past SEMCOG forecasts. They are always much higher than the later reality.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

That population growth estimate is for Washtenaw County, not A2.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

Study it! Put the trains, buses, roads, and zoning into one cohesive plan that the community can organize its growth around. Keep what will work, rule out what will not. Simply having more of this Sumi Kailasapathy / TEA Party-style / Just say no approach will lead to a reduced core surrounded by choked suburbs.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:41 p.m.

All I hear from the TEA Party wing of city council is "no" when it comes to any kind of concrete transit service. My ears are open, and I will be very interested to hear some kind of specific idea about how to move forward. I am not expecting to hear such a vision even after this study is delivered, but I am certainly hoping.

Sam S Smith

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:12 p.m.

Study this to death and rack up the bill! Please, I have so much money to burn! And I own stock in consulting!

Kathy Griswold

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

Council Member Sumi Kailasapathy' comments seem more consistent with your own:"Study it!" and "one cohesive plan" comments. Asking how we can afford all these projects is not an outright "TEA Party-style" NO. It is excellent representation! From the article: City Council Member Sumi Kailasapathy, D-1st Ward, said it would be premature for her to form an opinion before the study has been completed, but she's among those concerned the city and its partners are taking on too many transit-related projects simultaneously. "The Connector study is just one of the many transit issues currently being discussed," she said. "We have just emerged from a failed effort to create a countywide transit authority. The AATA seems intent on expanding service beyond Ann Arbor to the adjoining urban areas." Additional, a new four-county Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority is just being formed, and Kailasapathy believes that eventually will have an impact on transit in Ann Arbor. And there are plans for two commuter rail lines from Ann Arbor to Detroit and from Howell to Ann Arbor."I think my view on the Connector plans will be affected by the developments of all of these proposals," she said. "I am mostly concerned about how we will pay for any of the proposed services, and cannot understand how all of them can be afforded at the same time."


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

SEMCOG forecasts very little increase in the population of Ann Arbor in the next ten years and economists predict anemic job growth as well. So changing our transportation system should be based on present needs rather than future needs which are unlikely to different. Presently, the three bus service along the "corridor" is not heavily used and standing-room-only over-capacity of any bus is rare if it ever happens at all. Since any "improved" transportation system will travel the same routes as the buses, how will usage be increased enough to justify the added expense? The land alongside the "corridor" is fully developed with little residential and business construction planned for the future so the number of transportation users should not change significantly. Buses can be easily added to our transportation system now at a cost of $650,000 each and their routes are flexible. To establish a trolley, or monorail, or light rail system along the "corridor" will require tens of millions of dollars for structural development. The federal and state governments are unlikely to provide financial support so Ann Arbor taxpayers will be asked to approve a millage or income tax to provide the money. A new expensive transportation system along the "corridor" is unjustified on both a need and cost basis.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

Maybe we need to pay for a study on reaaaalllly looooooonnng zip lines.....

John of Saline

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

Yep. Then you'd get sued for ADA violations.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

Yes: Reroute empty AATA busses to concentrated demand area stated in study. We have the busses. We have the roads. Consultant fee for this solution? Cents (common).


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:18 p.m.

There's already plenty of AATA and U. Michigan bus service along the route shown on the map. I just don't see a demonstrated need for other forms of mass transit. I fear that if City Hall goes with these proposals, Ann Arbor will end up with some version of the Detroit 'People Mover' that will be little used but cost lots of $$ to maintain.

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Heck I would happy with traffic arrows on Downtown Main St. Try turning off of Downtown Main around 5:00pm

Peter Eckstein

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:07 p.m.

It is always good to see AATA spending more and more money to have consultants (and staff members) tell us it needs to spend more money. What I would like to see them spend a little money on is monitoring how much usage there is on some of the more obscure bus routes. All the time I see giant buses carrying zero, one, or two passengers. If we are so dense a population, why can't we begin to fill the buses we have?


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:22 p.m.

OK, then how about we concentrate on making the taxpayers happy?


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

If they made a decision and didn't get an expert, everyone else would say they were making decisions w/o experts. Can't win - but I agree, I am not a fan of experts but I've been on both sides of this and you can't make everyone happy.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:56 p.m.

"While the city's population remains at roughly 114,000, there are tens of thousands of additional people who make the daily commute to work in Ann Arbor." where are the parking places going to be on the 'boomerang"? Or are all the people who work at Domino farms going to park at Briarwood? Then all the people who work at Briarwood can park at the Medical Center. All the people who work at the Medical Center can park at......


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 10:58 p.m.

tjm- what station are you going to from west gate? the plan has nothing on that side of town


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 2:04 p.m.

That's true, Craig, but money talks. They have a greatly underutilized, monetizable resource in those acres of parking. They could just carve out the chunks closest to the road (furthest from the stores) and rent them to commuters/AATA. How could they say no? Then on Saturdays, they become football parking.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

timjbd, you named a bunch of privately owned lots. They would need to be on board with people using their lots as commuter parking. I know Arborland was not at all fond of that not too long ago. Isn't that partly why they booted the transfer station out? I can't speak to the other lots you mentioned but it could be an issue if the lot is over used for commuters to the point that customers have a hard time parking. In any case only a couple of them seem to be on the boomerang.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:08 p.m.

85 000 STUDENTS between Ypsi and ANN ARBOR alone..


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:04 p.m.

There are vastly underutilized parking lots at Briarwood, Arborland, Meijers, the former Mega-Borders, the former KMart, Guy Hollerins (used to be the Holiday Inn), Westgate. Literally acres and acres of huge parking lots around the asteroid belt getting far less than 50% daily use.

Sam S Smith

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:06 p.m.

"With that said - it needs to be done with care to not turn AA into a place where a state takeover has to fix the mistake." by Sellers. Very good point!

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

where are the parking lots going to be on the boomerang? you ignored my question.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:27 p.m.

Parking lots are less expensive to maintain and build on the fringe versus in downtown core. Ann Arbor has one of the highest park and ride usage I've seen in the midwest. I lived in detroit metro for many years and their bus system was unused (versus AA which is highly used) and their park and rides were hardly used (versus AA which is highly used) noone walked or biked to work, unlike AA where we have to be careful we don't hit bikes. This city is different in culture and attitude than the rest of the midwest. It's why we are not a rust belt city in the rust belt. It's why our unemployment is so much better than our neighbors. We are leaders, we are different, it's our history to lead and be different, and we have been successful. I encourage folks who think this is crazy to go live in other similar, larger, or smaller cities in the region, and you'll see the AA has the best chance to make a real difference here. With that said - it needs to be done with care to not turn AA into a place where a state takeover has to fix the mistake.

Ricardo Queso

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

It's not as sexy a solution as a monorail. Just fix the roads.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:24 p.m.

There is no U or I in weeeeeeee!!!!


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:21 p.m.

Just think....weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee......!


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:45 p.m.

Hizzoner's vision of "dedicated bus lanes" is one of buses, bicycles and no cars. What roads in a2 are wide enough to add a dedicated bus lane to? If the UofM wants to build a monorail to connect North Campus, their hospital and their downtown campus, then let the Regents open *their* checkbook.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

The issue is parking all these cars that flow in to town for work. How exactly does a high priced transit system running between the high density job locations create parking places? I understand mass transit by its nature is not remotely paid for by riders. We all chip in to subsidize the ticket price. I'm OK that I pay taxes for the AATA that I never ride. But I don't especially want to pay any more than I do now for something I don't use. Essentially this plan is to save time and or money for people I don't know to get to and from their jobs. I don't really want to pay more than I already do for that..... But if there was a little quid pro quo i could get on board. So I propose a 10 cent surcharge on every ticket that goes to me to make my life a little easier. I'd start with a brand new 2 1/2 car garage to replace my old 1 car garage. I can't really afford it, but if I only had to pay 10% of the cost while my fellow citizens picked up the other 90% I'd start next week.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

Sellers- Unless you live on the westside of town. Then you would never use this service because to drive to the station is the same as driving any where it would take you.

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:38 p.m.

timjbd, fair question. For starters i am self employed and work out of my house so i have no regular commute. When I do drive to places like Home Depot or Kroger's I not overly excited about trying to load my purchases on a bus. I'd rather put them in the trunk of my car. If my wife and I are going out to dinner Id just rather take a 6 minute car ride than to wait for a 15 minute bus ride I guess. If I worked elsewhere at the same location every day and there was a fairly direct bus I might take it but I don't. Its a bit ironic that the few times a bus might make sense for me I'd rather drive and save the time, which is what this proposal seems to be about, saving people time.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

Craig, Why don't you use the buses? Like you said, you pay for them. What would it take to get you to try it out?

Craig Lounsbury

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

Your going to have a hard time dining downtown if there aren't roads for trucks to bring product to the restaurant. we can't live without roads and bridges but we can live without a tram. So if its an either or as you almost imply then the tram has to lose. why can't you jump on the current bus system? Why do you need a tram? I don't have an ipod, I don't need an iPod and I don't want to subsidize your iPod. I do however want you to subsidize my android.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:23 p.m.

See, I would jump on the tram to head downtown for my meetings, lunch dates, or to park at a park-n-ride lot and transit into the city core for dining, entertainment, concerts, or just to hang at the park on the river. This is what a vibrate city does. Urban sprawl is a recent invention of American's and it's quickly become unsustainable (roads, bridges, etc that are in need of repair). Think different - and invent the ipod folks.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:41 p.m.

Why is this even a serious conversation? How about the roads get fixed for the "tens of thousands" who commute into Ann Arbor, myself included. Everyday is dodge the epic pothole fun zone. You neve really know if you're gonna get it from the potholes or the other drivers avoiding the potholes.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

@Philly: I'm simply making reference to the quote (and the context) in the article. Obviously the roads need fixed for everyone. Duh.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:52 p.m.

sounds like common sense to me...


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:50 p.m.

How about the roads get fixed for the "tens of thousands" who LIVE in Ann Arbor, myself included?

Jim Osborn

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:37 p.m.

Rather than raising my property taxes to pay for this light rail or monorail folly, why not have UM pay for it via higher tuition fees? Or, raise the healthcare costs of all via medical fees. Ridership will be low if it is financed via user fees. Do the sensible thing and use a bus or tram service.

Bob W

Mon, Mar 11, 2013 : 1:33 p.m.

JimO, don't look now but they have been increased. Just received my new assessment, up $10,000.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:47 p.m.

JRW, I think the figure is something more like 7 BILLION dollars in the current UM endowment. They could pay for this system without even noticing. But of course, they won't.

Sam S Smith

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:02 p.m.

The U of M will not sink their money into because they know their employees will not use it.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

UM is sitting on a billion dollar plus cash hoard. They can afford to build transit systems for their employees. As far as UM being funded by taxpayer dollars, only a small percentage of the UM budget comes from the state, around 15%, and maybe less in recent years due to cuts from the state. In essence they are a private institution with a massive pile of cash in their endowment.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

Jim, I think U-M is very interested in paying for part of this. But remember, U-M is funding by taxpayers too so it's not as simple as stated.

Jim Osborn

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:47 p.m.

What I meant is that if UM wants it, they can pay for it, not AA taxpayers. But UM is not this silly.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

All aboard the Boondoggle Boomerang!


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

Dedicated bus lanes sound like a great idea, but they will have to be built and that will be expensive. Furthermore, we can't seem to maintain the roads we currently have in reasonable condition, so I'm unmotivated to consider spending what will be piles of money on more road surface that will eventually be cracked and neglected... Oh, and the comment about how we are talking about school closings due to massive budget concerns in the same paper - yep! This is crazy! Close schools but build dedicated bus lanes for an uncertain ridership?? Let's take good care of what we've already got, and then I'll be motivated to support expansions.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

Dedicated bus lanes are just as susceptible to bad weather, congestion, potholes and accidents as any other vehicle on a highway. My relatives live in Minneapolis where they have rapid transit buses and dedicated lanes. Though I must say that Minneapolis takes far better care of their roads than AA in terms of maintenance and snow removal. No comparison.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

Oh? Simple solution that is probably the least cost - add more buses. No rails needed for this solution versus the other statements and concepts identified in this article like light rail, rapid transit and streetcars??!!


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:47 p.m.

How about smaller buses as well? During off-peak hours the big empty ones do us all no favors. Might also be wise to look a bus stop placement. In my neighborhood they're almost close enough to spit between, making for a lot of unnecessary bus stopping.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:10 p.m.

People Mover West.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

Light rail or street more busses.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:27 p.m.

As much as I'd love to see street cars, buses are the most flexible mass transit solution AND the cheapest and easiest to scale up. I ride the bus every day to work and it's fine. They're not dirty, they're fairly quiet and I do not have to participate in the morning rat race.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:19 p.m.

Yes, I agree, a bus system would not be pioneering enough. In any city in the midwest can lead it's Ann Arbor. We must look at ways that will make it easier to use this mass transit than to use a car. That will ensure people use it (path of least resistance) We need to look at funding that make new development have to put in mass transit stations as part of their development either by granting right of way for track or lanes, or by making a station as part of the building if it exceeds a certain size/population.

Jim Osborn

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:39 p.m.

Paid for by who?


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:08 p.m.

In other news, the FAA has announced that tower staffing at a2 muni airport is being cut, culminating in control tower closure. In other news, transportation projects nationwide are being shelved due to sequester cuts. In the same old news, a2 city government continues to act as if the cash stream is unending, whether sourced form city, state, or federal citizenry. Their message to citizens: "Merci (petite bourgeoisie)."


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:40 p.m.

Sellers: Fed tax = our money Local tax = our money ridiculous unnecessary project using Fed tax != good idea ridiculous unnecessary project using Local tax != good idea


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Federal != local.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 12:04 p.m.

"I am mostly concerned about how we will pay for any of the proposed services, and cannot understand how all of them can be afforded at the same time." Thank you Sumi, for some sense. Don't forget, though, that before we concern ourselves with whether we can afford it, we should find out if it's we need it or if it's even a good idea in the first place. It sure would be great if the city would just concentrate on things critical to the continuing operation of the city. Our property taxes are being raised, new millages asked for, water rates going up, etc., and for some reason they are in a constant frenzy to figure out how to spend more. FIX THE ROADS!!!


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:56 a.m.

The Springfield Monorail.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:57 p.m.

"I call the big one 'Bitey'

Homeland Conspiracy

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:48 a.m.

So they dug a little deeper, and we're 4th on the list. Then they dug STILL deeper, and look, we're #1. Wow, you do enough digging, and stick at it, and do it a few different ways, turns out you'll come up with conclusion you're being paid to get. Nice work. I wonder if there's some way a highly-paid consulting co. could look at A2 being compared to Cleveland and Jacksonville and come up with that being the most ridiculous comparison that no numbers or slice/dice on the data would justify. Hhhmmmmmm...... It seems to me like this is about the 12th study done in the last 18 months on the same thing. And about the 50th study in the last 5 years, starting with the inane trolley car one in 2008, I believe it was. Anyone want to check my numbers? Ryan, do you think it would be interesting to add up the costs of all these different consultants doing different studies on the same, or very similar thing, in the same, or very similar area, and get a total dollar cost? Because man, the whole "study" and "analysis" and "commission" and "task force" and "think tank" thing on this transit issue is getting REALLY REALLY redundant and expensive. Also, I see that URS Corp. is ONE of AATA's consultants. Can we find out how many consultants they have total, and how much they've each received over the last 5 years, and what their job responsibilities are? I think I sense one of the AATA money drains here.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 2:36 a.m.

Strangely enough or perhaps by coincidence; the largest area of the "boomerang" is the area between Central Campus and North Campus. U-M's Bus System has successfully and efficiently served this area for years. U-M's bus system is free fare, and costs less than half to operate of what AATA's system costs. U-M buses carried more than 7M passengers last year. Again, as I have said before; the Connector Study is just another attempt by AATA to abolish U-M's bus system and firmly plant themselves in the vault at the First Bank of U-M, while continuing to tax residents of Ann Arbor.

average joe

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

RU- I also see, based on URS corp's website, that 'consulting' isn't an advertised service that they perform, but EVERYTHING else beyond that in this type of project is, from design, build, to system maintenance. But hey, they say we're #1.....


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:23 p.m.

Great idea. And I am in favor of mass transit. Good to know exactly where the money's going, though. Cities already employ experts in these fields, they can do feasibility studies themselves.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:44 a.m.

That giant sucking sound you hear is your tax dollars going down the toilet. A $1.5 million study? A drop-in survey? It's March and no dates for April public meetings?


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 1:40 p.m.

Hey 1bit - what's the prob? They had 275 responses noted in the $1.5M survey. So it cost around $5,000 per opinion.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:43 a.m.

That said, I am all for the U of M building whatever it is that they need!


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:57 a.m.

Exactly. The greatest "need" for this sort of thing is the connector between central/medical/north campus. Though I remember as a student the bus was anything but slow.

Tom Joad

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:42 a.m.

The time to plan and establish a workable mass transit system is now. Personal automobile transportation is not sustainable with peak oil and global climate change. We are nearly completely reliant on foreign oil to support our automotive infrastructure and that oil is becoming more expensive to use and find. There is a colossal myth and oil company propaganda being spread that the USA will be energy independent with these new oil discoveries and proposed Keystone pipeline to use Canada's dirty tar sands oil at ruinous cost to the environment. Nothing could be farther from the truth. These oil fields in North Dakota are only numbered in the 3 or 4 billion barrel range. Since the USA uses a billion barrels every 50 days that resource is not long lasting at all. Canada is using all surplus natural gas to cook its tar into something resembling oil but in the process unleashing a stupendous amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and fouling their fresh watershed. It takes almost as much water to produce this oil and much of it has to be sequestered in huge containment ponds that, not surprisingly, are leaking. Getting people out of their cars and onto a bus is the only way we are going to save the planet, and many scientists already think it may be too late, it's that serious.


Sat, Mar 9, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

Yep. Environmentally, you have to have critical mass of ridership or buses are not enviro-friendly. Right now, those who use buses are people, mostly, who have no other means of getting around. Just shows you how married to wasteful ways people are in this country. It's gonna take a sizable shock to get people to leave their cars at home. But once that happens, better have the infrastructure already in place than to have to build it in an emergency.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:34 p.m.

I agree that something MUST be done on the whole destroying the planet thing. If you ask me, we all should have reverted to pilgrim technology as soon as we found out you couldn't eat too much fish because of the mercury. HOWEVER, the same way we talk about how shortsighted these energy hogs are, I wonder exactly how valid and wonderfully ingenious all these "green" ideas are. For instance, having 50 buses running nonstop and putting 2000 cars' worth of CO2 into the air when there's a 5% ridership. Or using all the resources (including money) to build new train stations when the number of people that use it stays the same. If we all knew that building a train station would make 50% of the people who drive to work use the train instead, AND that the pollutive/economic expense of the train actually cancelled that out in less than 50 years, I'd be all for it. But I don't think we do know that. Heck, I'm still half convinced that in about 10 years we're going to find out that the damage to the environment from all the electric/hybrid car batteries is worse than oil ever was.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:49 p.m.

Maybe electric cars, and increased mass transit and mass transit usage have something to do with that?

Steve Hendel

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:43 p.m.

I did just look it up:

Steve Hendel

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:40 p.m.

"We are nearly completely reliant on foreign oil to support our automotive infrastructure and that oil is becoming more expensive to use and find. " Wrong! The latest figures indicate that, for the first time in a long time, we are importing less than half of the oil we consume internally. You could look it up.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 4:17 p.m.

Koch bros called. They want all the commenter's picture IDs (not true). The way the free market works is that first it must break. Then Adam Smith's hand slaps the system into a corrective action. Unfortunately, human extinction is difficult for business to correct after the fact. The corporations don't really care, either. They think of themselves as perpetual individuals and will still be around long after everyone else is gone. Stupid corporations. Playing the futures involves both science and gambling luck. Most humans understand the gambling luck part. How about a nice solar farm project instead. At least people can still cook a healthy breakfast before bicycling off to work.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

You can see by the response (-6 so far) that people can't handle the truth. That won't stop the truth from arriving, just make people all the more flummoxed by it. It's clear that Ann Arborites love their ruinous suburban ways and will cling to them like grim death. I wonder what gas price will finally force people to realize they need to leave the car at home and ride the bus? Time will tell.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:42 a.m.

It's always good to refresh data and look at new strategies. The baseline has to be the reality of the existing AATA service. How much per trip does it cost the taxpayer? How will the new forms of transportation improve upon that?


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:40 a.m.

A Monorail!!! Weeeeeeeeeeeee.....

Steven Taylor

Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

A bon-a-fide electrified six car monorail! *cue The Simpsons Episode*


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:36 a.m.

They need to realize that few if any roads in A2 are big enough for exclusive bus lanes. Elevated roads, monorails, etc. are silly to consider. The comment on the tax base not being large enough to support the types of things is right on. Even a wage tax wouldn't get there.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 7:17 p.m.

Even light rail which I prefer, may be too expensive for Ann Arbor. Still I prefer that to puny rapid buses, which will cause only more traffic jams anywhere they are used, not just in A2.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:57 a.m.

In the same paper we're talking about closing schools. Forehead slap.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 11:26 a.m.

Paid consultants are advocates that are chosen to represent the employer's cause. Paid consultant advocates are biased to "possibility." Not surprised by consultant report. Cut down on cars by encouraging and enabling private car and van pooling. Help make it happen with social media with an existing IT staff person. Maybe an existing staff grant writer could "find some federal money," as well. We already have a massive subsidized transit form: AATA. Rider fares pay about 20% of cost. That's enough subsidization from my budget for me. Regional transit plans should come from independent sources for true regional connection and benefit, and not the DDA, which believes it is the center of the known universe. Where did it get that idea, anyway?


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 8:38 p.m.

Here's a list of existing and possibly duplicative services regarding car and van pools:,4616,7-151-9615_11228-166587--,00.html Design an app to help truly interested parties find a ride: could be on a regular or infrequent basis. Or, develop a comprehensive web page to do the same. This shouldn't take much money or effort by someone, or an entity with just a small amount of imagination and intelligence. Just an idea, offered for free, for existing hardware and infrastructure.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 5:24 p.m.

>> Cut down on cars by encouraging and enabling private car and van pooling. Help make it happen with social media with an existing IT staff person. What? That's all it takes -- a social media campaign and a new IT position? So if we start a facebook page called "VanpoolsRcool!" we can count on "likes" turning into shared transit involvement? Are you serious? Social media has its uses, but it's not going to convince people that car-pooling is more convenient than suitable and accessible mass transit. Because, um, it isn't. I don't know whether or not the study should be trusted, but your silly and simple solutions aren't swaying my opinion against its findings.


Fri, Mar 8, 2013 : 3:09 p.m.

DDA gets their "ideas" from Heiftje who takes his orders from um. Um wants to offload their trasportation costs to the people of AA.