The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s Route #5 will be getting increased service starting at the end of January 2013, based on a vote taken by the AATA board at its Nov. 15, 2012 meeting. The resolution took the form of a re-programming of funds from the AATA’s AirRide service, which is covering its costs and generating more passenger revenue than forecast. AirRide service will not be affected by the board’s move.
Route #5 has two branches – between downtown Ann Arbor and downtown Ypsilanti, and between downtown Ann Arbor and the Carpenter Road Meijer. The current service level runs buses every 15 minutes on the main trunk of the two branches. The board’s vote will result in an increase in service on the second branch, which is primarily within Ann Arbor, so that service on the main trunk would be every 10 minutes.
The annual cost of the increased frequency is $156,700. Prorated from the end of January through the end of September 2013, which is the end of the AATA’s fiscal year, the cost is $90,700. The vote to allocate the $90,700 came with dissent from board members Jesse Bernstein and Roger Kerson, who supported the need for increased service, but were inclined to follow the timetable recommended by AATA staff. That timeline would have involved a more comprehensive financial assessment of other services in the coming months and implementation of increased Route #5 frequency at the end of April.
Board member David Nacht, who added the resolution to the agenda during the meeting, pushed for the authorization to increase the service immediately. He argued that Route #5 is a core service for residents of Ann Arbor, whose property taxes are the reason the AATA exists. The resolution makes a statement about who the AATA stands for and who it serves, Nacht said. Compared to other services the AATA might soon be considering scaling back – like the commuter express services from Chelsea and Canton – Route #5 was not “icing” but rather “cake,” Nacht said.
Board member Eli Cooper supported Nacht’s sentiments, concluding his remarks with, “Let’s move the people.” Board chair Charles Griffith was swayed by the argument that delaying a decision for a month would delay implementation of increased service by an additional three months, because of technical limitations on when the AATA can implement service changes. Griffith also noted that winter is a time when people depend more on frequent and timely bus service.
This brief was filed from the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library at 343 S. Fifth Ave., where the AATA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]