Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (April 18, 2013): Board member David Nacht’s final regular meeting after 10 years of service included action on a significant project he’d worked on during that time: bus service between downtown Ann Arbor and Detroit Metropolitan Airport.
To provide the AirRide service, which was launched a year ago, the AATA is currently in negotiations with Michigan Flyer to revise terms of the second year of the contract. While the first year called for the AATA to pay Michigan Flyer an amount not to exceed $700,000 for the hourly service, the ridership – given the structure of the revenue-sharing deal – has resulted in a far lower cost.
So the board passed a resolution at its April 18 meeting reflecting the current status of negotiations, which are pointing toward a not-to-exceed amount of $300,000 for the contract’s second year. The board’s action rescinded a resolution it had passed at the previous month’s meeting, in favor of one that reflected the current status of negotiations between AATA and Michigan Flyer.
Besides the resolution on AirRide, the only other item requiring a vote was one honoring David Nacht’s decade of service on the board – which covered two full five-year terms. During his brief remarks, Nacht thanked the riders of the AATA’s service, the bus drivers and the mechanics. He also thanked his family – his two sons attended the meeting. In addition, Nacht thanked the Ann Arbor mayor and city council, which make the appointments to the AATA board. At the council’s April 15 meeting, mayor John Hieftje had announced the nomination of Eric Mahler, currently a city planning commissioner, to replace Nacht.
Discussion on non-voting items included the future of public transportation in the broader region – in two significant ways.
First, board members lamented the fact that no U.S. company, and more specifically no Michigan company, had bid on the AATA’s request for proposals to replace battery kits for its hybrid electric buses. But board sentiment was that a larger purchasing consortium for such kits might eventually be achieved through the newly-created southeast Michigan regional transit authority (RTA) – which includes the transit agencies in Washtenaw, Wayne, Macomb and Oakland Counties. And that larger consortium might make it worth the while of a Michigan company that’s a part of the state’s nascent battery industry to invest in the capability to produce bus battery kits.
Second, the board was paid a visit by Ypsilanti city councilmember Pete Murdock, who alerted the board to the likelihood that the city of Ypsilanti would make a formal request to join the AATA. The request would need approval from the AATA board and almost certainly the Ann Arbor city council, and could have implications for board membership. The goal of such a move would be to provide a more stable financial foundation for Ypsilanti bus service.
The city of Ypsilanti itself already levies its constitutional cap of 20 mills of property tax. If the AATA were to ask voters of member jurisdictions to approve a millage – an authority the AATA does not currently exercise – that additional amount would not count against Ypsilanti’s constitutional cap.