The Transportation Page

An ever-expanding list of links to Ann Arbor transportation plans and topics.

Local in Ann Arbor Blog Posts

Big Plans is an article about local transportation planning submitted to the Ann Arbor Observer in February 2009 but  never published in this form.

AATA’s Uncertain Future (December 10, 2009)

Our Shining City on a Hill (March 11, 2010)

AATA Yesterday and Tomorrow (June 17, 2011)

Train of Dreams (June 24, 2011)

Train of Dreams II (June 25, 2011)

Fuller Road Station and the Mayor’s Letter (July 28, 2011)

WALLY Hitting the Wall? (August 13, 2011)

Fuller Road Station: Parsing the Mayor’s Letter (August 21, 2011)

Fuller Road Station: It’s All About Parking (September 2, 2011)

AATA: Moving Us Where? (October 29, 2011)

AATA: Moving Us Where? II  (November 7, 2011)

AATA: Moving Us Where? III: Where the Money Is  (November 17, 2011)

Say What? The Mayor Speaks about Fuller Road Station (December 9, 2011)

AATA: Moving Us Where? The Big Picture  (December 12, 2011)

AATA: Moving Us Where? The Big Picture II (December 17, 2011)

AATA: Moving Us Where? The Politics (December 29, 2011)

AATA: Moving Us Where? The Politics II (January 2, 2012)

The Case of the Vanishing Transit Millage (January 4, 2012)

The Case of the Vanishing Transit Millage II (January 5, 2012)

AATA: Moving Us Along (January 15, 2012)

How Much “County” in Washtenaw County-wide Transit? (January 27, 2012)

Following the Money for (Washtenaw) County-wide Transit (January 29, 2012)

Fairness and Transit: Where AATA Is Moving Us (March 1, 2012)

Fairness and Transit II (March 10, 2012)

Fairness and Transit III (March 13, 2012)

Those State Transportation Bills and the Regional Transit Authority (April 1, 2012)

The Transit Picture in Ann Arbor and Environs: Still a Ball of Confusion (September 30, 2012)

Washtenaw County Transit: More Outs than Ins  (October 21, 2012)

Regional Transit in Ann Arbor and Beyond: A Matter of Governance (October 30, 2012)

Regional Transit in Ann Arbor and Beyond: A Matter of Governance II (November 8, 2012)

The SE Michigan Regional Transit Authority in Progress (December 3, 2012)

Topsy-Turvy Transit: Where Do We Go From Here? (December 27, 2012)

Topsy-Turvy Transit: Where Do We Go From Here? II (January 1, 2013)

Topsy-Turvy Transit: Where Do We Go From Here? III (January 1, 2013)

Transit, Transportation and the Money Question (March 28, 2013)

Transit, Transportation, and the Money Question II (March 31, 2013)

Transit, Transportation, and the Money Question III  (April 9, 2013)

Transit, Transportation, and the Money Question IV (April 12, 2013)

Once Again, AAATA Exceeds Its Reach (October 19, 2013)

The Reach for The Ride: Local Governments and Funding (October 20, 2013)

Moving Us Forward: The Urban Core Expansion Plan (October 26, 2013)

AAATA and the Zen of the Millage Vote  (January 16, 2014)

The Transit Question (February 23, 2014)

The Transportation Issue (March 27, 2014)

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) was incorporated in 1968.

Articles of Incorporation A perpetual millage was established by a charter amendment as the result of a ballot initiative passed by the voters of Ann Arbor on April 2, 1973. The ballot language was as follows:

Shall the Charter be amended to require the levy of a tax of two and one-half mills annually for the purpose of providing funds for operating and equipping a public transportation system for the City?

Original documentation is here (Note that the AATA millage as levied is now just over 2 mills, as a result of the Headlee Amendment provisions.)

The Citizens’ Lawsuit

On January 31, 1974, a group of citizens (led by Sally Vintner and including the League of Women Voters) sued the City of Ann Arbor in an attempt to restore funds that the City had deducted from the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s account.  The City had attempted to be repaid for earlier appropriations from the General Fund.  The system had been funded partly by Federal funds and partly by direct subsidy from the City, 1968-1973.   The City made a rather large payment ($429,250) to match a Federal grant to buy buses.  In 1973, after the ballot succeeded in adding a charter amendment for a 2.5 mill tax ,  a city official billed the AATA for “loan repayments”.  The suit succeeded in stopping the city’s attempt to use any of the millage funds, and the AATA has been hands-off ever since.

Here are pdfs of 1974 lawsuit brief judgment #1 judgement #2 judgment #3 judgment #4 judgment #5

Here is also the settlement agreement between AATA and City of Ann Arbor, together with a contemporary newspaper summary.

AATA’s TMP Changeover

The AATA Board initiated a Transit Master Plan process which would have resulted in asking countywide voters to approve a millage. They stated after an initial round of public meetings that the most popular option was the  “Smart Growth” plan that includes two commuter railroads. Conversion of AATA from Act 55 to Act 196 authority is detailed in a handout prepared by Jerry Lax.  This is described in our blog post, AATA’s Uncertain Future (December 10, 2009) and in other posts, notably the “AATA: Moving Us Where?” series listed above.
The  Moving You Forward website no longer contains descriptions of the TMP in any draft.  The initial plan was released by the AATA board in June 2011.  It consists of two volumes (these are both very large files):  A Transit Vision for Washtenaw County and Transit Master Plan Implementation Strategy. The financial strategy for funding the TMP is in two additional files: Transit Master Plan Funding Options (part 1) and Transit Master Plan Funding Options (part 2).

Final 5-year Plan, released September 5, 2012

Description of the 5-year service plan linked here.

Financial Task Force A blue-ribbon panel was appointed by the AATA board to come up with a financial plan for the first 5-year plan of implementing the TMP.  (Any millage vote would have to be renewed at the end of 5 years.)   They issued a report on February 29, 2012.  Here are the documents describing their findings.

Recommendations (summary report)

Subgroup Service Review report

Overview of subgroup report (presentation slides)

Operating budget spreadsheet

Capital budget spreadsheet

Financial performance of services spreadsheet

Budget summary spreadsheet

Letter from chair Albert Berriz

Letter from co-chair Bob Guenzel

The 4-Party Agreement and the Articles of Incorporation

The AATA spent much of the last year persuading the City of Ann Arbor, the City of Ypsilanti, and Washtenaw County to execute the 4-Party Agreement, which lays out conditions under which the AATA could shift its assets and income stream to a new authority (now being called the Washtenaw Ride).  The agreement was finalized on August 1, 2012.  There were also extensive negotiations in parallel to craft the Articles of Incorporation under which the new authority would operate.  This was also adopted by the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners in August, 2012, though a slight amendment was necessary on September 5 that reconciled language changes by Ann Arbor.  (Those changes are shown in red on the version linked here.)  The AATA Board then voted to submit the AOI to the County and they were filed on October 3, 2012.

The Ann Arbor City Council voted on November 8, 2012 to abrogate the 4-party agreement and opt out of the countywide authority (Washtenaw Ride).  Here is the resolution.

City of Ann Arbor

The Ann Arbor Transportation Plan Update is a far-reaching vision of future transportation plans that includes land use recommendations. The A2_Transportation_Plan_Draft_Report and A2_Transportation_Plan_Draft_Appendices may be downloaded here.  (Big files!)

The DDA lists  links to each chapter of the 2007 parking study by Nelson-Nygaard Consulting Associates. Chapter 1 of this study summarizes the major findings and conclusions.  This was also used to formulate a policy passed by City Council on June 18, 2007.

The Fuller Road Station (also known as the Fuller Intermodal Transportation Station, or FITS),  is a major venture whereby the City will, in partnership with the University of Michigan, use parkland to construct a parking structure for the UM.  It is also potentially a nexus for a transportation corridor  envisioned mostly to serve the UM (see our blog post, Our Shining City on a Hill).  A good review of issues was provided by the Ann Arbor Chronicle (June 8, 2010).  A citizen’s group has sprung up to oppose this project: see Stop Fuller Road Station.

On February 10, 2012, the UM and City of Ann Arbor announced in a joint press release that the UM will no longer be participating.  The giant parking structure is apparently dead, but not the train station.   See a report by the Ann Arbor Chronicle.

Related to the Fuller Road Station is the Connector Study, a cooperative planning project between the UM, the City of Ann Arbor, the DDA, and most importantly the AATA. Note that it meshes with and helps to implement the Ann Arbor Transportation Update, which called for signature routes.  The Connector Study Feasibility Report (prepared by consultants) is now available.  It was presented to the City Council on October 10, 2011.

Regional Plans and Reports

The Regional Transit Authority, comprised of representatives from Detroit, Wayne County, Washtenaw County, Oakland County, and Macomb County, was initiated by Senate Bill 909,  signed into law by Governor Snyder in December 2012.   See our post for a description of the different bills in the package that was passed in December.   SEMCOG is now hosting a web page for the authority.  The page lists the representatives who have been appointed by their respective governments.  The first organizational meeting for the authority is scheduled for March 28, 2013.

The Washtenaw Area Transportation Study  Transit Plan for Washtenaw County is available here.

The Ann Arbor Region Success project (conducted in 2008) formulated a timeline to organize a county-wide transit authority under Public Act 196.  This concept was also described in an article in the Ann Arbor Chronicle (November 3, 2009) and in our blog post,  AATA’s Uncertain Future.

State of Michigan

Governor Rick Snyder has made transportation a major feature of his vision for Michigan. He presented a major concept paper on transportation issues on October 26, 2011.  The summary is here and we also reviewed some aspects that are especially pertinent to the future of Washtenaw County transit in our post, AATA: Moving Us Where II.  A good review from January 2012 is in this article from the Ann Arbor Chronicle.  Since then, some of the bills related to formation of a Regional Transit Authority in SE Michigan have passed and become law.   Here is a blow/by blow description of how they were passed.

Governor Snyder recommended a number of changes in transportation funding in his budget message for FY 2014 and FY 2015.  The complete budget is here (big file).  His proposals will require much legislation and some of the changes are likely to be controversial.  Here is a compact summary of the proposals, line by line.

A number of useful summaries and analyses of Michigan transportation finance matters are available on this page from the House Fiscal Agency.

Transportation in Michigan has been recognized to be in crisis for some time. The Michigan Transportation Funding Task Force (TF2) issued a report in late 2008 that is truly scary with regard to our statewide infrastructure funding. “Michigan is moving from underinvestment in transportation to disinvestment.  The consequences of failing to act quickly and decisively to avoid this scenario will reverberate throughout the state for years to come.”

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