89.1 WEMU

Transit Millage Approved By Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Ypsilanti Township Voters

May 6, 2014

Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority riders can expect later service hours coming in August after voters in three communities approved a new transit tax.  The More Buses campaign is declaring victory with about 70 percent of the votes supporting the measure.

Credit Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

The .7 Mill tax will raise about $4.4 million in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Ypsilanti Township in 2014. While additional service hours are expected this year, many of the other proposed changes will take more time since additional buses will be needed.

C-E-O Michael Ford is pleased voters didn't let the opponents stop the necessary expansion of service.  He says the authority is run efficiently and points to a lower than average cost per passenger trip when compared to peer organizations 

Overall service will increase by 44 percent, including about 57-thousand more hours for Ann Arbor; 8,500 more service hours in Ypsilanti; and 9,400 hours of new service in Ypsilanti Township.  

Proposed improvements include

  • Expanded Dial-A-Ride Service for seniors and people with disabilities
  • More direct service through redesigned routes
  • Extended hours on weekdays and nights
  • Extended weekend service on fixed routes
  • Improved bus stops
  • Increased service frequency on many routes

Chair of the AAATA board Charles Griffith thanks the broad coalition of supporters including elected officials, businesses, labor organizations, senior citizens, and others. He says it was a risk to put the issue on the ballot when a low turn-out was expected, but the service improvements wouldn't have been possible for over a year if they waited until the August primary. 

Representatives from Better Transit Now, the organization that opposed the millage, weren't immediately available for comment.  Prior to the election the group supported the service increase but believe it could be delivered without any additional funding if the AAATA was more efficient.  They point to the University of Michigan bus system as a better model of efficiency.

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— Andrew Cluley is the Ann Arbor beat reporter, and anchor for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him acluley@emich.edu.