Stories indexed with the term ‘U196’

AATA OKs Ann Arbor-Ypsi Route Increases

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Nov. 17, 2011): The board’s agenda Thursday night contained two items that were fairly uncontroversial.

Carlisle Participation Tool

Ben Carlisle mans the laptop for the projection onto the screen as his father Dick Carlisle explains to the unincorporated Act 196 (U196) board how an online community input tool can be used to map out suggestions from attendees at public forums. The men are with Carlisle Wortman Associates, an Ann Arbor consulting firm hired by the AATA to help with district planning meetings. The U196 meeting took place on Nov. 14. (Image links to the online participation tool.)

One item was the ratification of a new policy on public input for changes in bus fares and schedules. When the board arrived at the item on the agenda, board member David Nacht, who was first to speak to the issue, suggested the issue was so straightforward that the board could vote immediately.

The board unanimously approved the new public input policy, which distinguishes between major and minor changes to fares and routes, and provides a range of ways that the public is to be notified about such changes. The policy also includes a range of ways the AATA will receive the public’s feedback on such changes.

Another item generating little controversy at the board table was approval of an increase to the number of buses running on the Washtenaw Avenue corridor – between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, which is served by AATA Route #4. Again, Nacht led off board discussion on the issue, calling it a “no-brainer.” At the conclusion of his brief remarks, he declared, “Let’s vote!” Others had more to say, but the board eventually approved the increased bus frequency – up to eight buses per hour during peak periods.

Nacht’s apparent eagerness to dispatch with those items with extra efficiency could be attributed to a hour-long closed session the board had held before those votes.

The session was held to deliberate on a request from the American Civil Liberties Union that the AATA accept an advertisement for the sides of its buses that had been previously rejected. When the board emerged from the closed session – held to consider a written opinion of its legal counsel, which is allowed under the Michigan Open Meetings Act – the board voted to affirm the rejection of the ad. The ad includes the text, “Boycott ‘Israel’ Boycott Apartheid.”

In addition to taking those three votes, the board entertained its usual range of committee and staff reports, including updates on a possible transition by the AATA into a countywide authority. Those updates included a report on the second meeting of the U196 – an unincorporated board of a countywide transit authority likely to be formed under Michigan’s Act 196 of 1986.

Another update connected to countywide expansion related to progress on a four-way agreement between Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County and the AATA. The four-way agreement would establish the contribution of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti millage funding to the new countywide authority, and set the role of Washtenaw County to incorporate the new authority.

CEO Michael Ford also announced a $2.1 million federal grant the AATA had received (in addition to a previously announced $2.65 million grant in October) to fund the incremental cost of purchasing hybrid-electric buses.

Thursday’s meeting likely marked the penultimate monthly AATA board meeting for Sue McCormick, who is currently public services area administrator for the city of Ann Arbor. She’s leaving that position to take a job, beginning at the start of 2012, leading Detroit’s water and sewerage department. [Full Story]

U196 Board Convenes First Meeting

The unincorporated version of a possible future Act 196 countywide authority in Washtenaw County met for the first time on Oct. 20, 2011. Act 196 of 1986 is a state enabling statute that explicitly provides for the formation of a transit authority at the county level. The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority is formed under Act 55 of 1963.

The meeting comes in the context of the culmination of the AATA’s transportation master planning effort and the review of various financing options now taking place by a group of more than 20 financial experts from the private and public sectors. The financial group is led by former Washtenaw County administrator Bob Guenzel and McKinley Inc. CEO Albert Berriz.

Membership in … [Full Story]

AATA To Use One-Time Deficit as Catapult

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Sept. 15, 2011): With four of its seven members in attendance, the AATA board had just enough members present to transact two major pieces of business for the coming year. The board approved its 2012 fiscal year work plan and the budget that will support that plan.

Michael Ford CEO AATA

AATA's CEO Michael Ford presents an overview of the transit master plan to members of a financial group that will be making recommendations on funding options for countywide transportation. (Photos by the writer.)

The AATA fiscal year runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30. The budget approved by the board calls for expenses of $30,410,616 against only $29,418,995 in revenues, for a deficit in the coming year of $991,621. At the meeting, members stressed that the nearly $1 million deficit was due to one-time expenses associated with the planned transition to a countywide service. They also stressed that even by using unrestricted reserves over the next year to cover the planned deficit, the AATA would still be left with more than three months’ worth of operating expenses in its reserve.

Incurring a deficit this year was characterized as a way to “catapult” the organization forward, allowing it to pursue an aggressive work plan for the coming year, which was also approved at the meeting. Highlights of that work plan include reconstruction of the Blake Transit Center in downtown Ann Arbor. Design for the station is expected to be complete by the end of the year, with construction to start in spring 2012.

In terms of increased service, next year’s work plan includes a focus on: establishing the AATA as a vanpool service provider; establishing service to the Detroit Metro Airport; improving work-transportation connections between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti; and continuing work on commuter rail. Also related to enhanced services, the AATA is also holding rider forums in October to get feedback on proposed increased service on Route #4, between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

Related specifically to commuter rail, the board received an update at the meeting on the Washtenaw Livingston Line (WALLY) project, a proposed north-south commuter rail connection between Howell and Ann Arbor. The board expressed some caution about the project by passing a resolution that requires the board’s explicit approval for the expenditure of the $50,000 in next year’s budget allocated for station designs.

In other business, the board approved the selection of Plante & Moran as its new auditor. A new auditor rotation policy put in place by the board earlier this year made the previous auditor, Rehmann Robson, ineligible for the contract. The AATA board also approved a contract with an outside vendor to begin offering vanpool service.

In business that could be described as housekeeping, the board opted to keep its same slate of officers for the coming year and to keep the same meeting schedule – the third Thursday of the month. Jesse Bernstein was elected chair last year, and will continue in that role.

Also at the meeting, other members of the financial review group were announced. That group will be analyzing funding options for an expansion to countywide service. Previously, it had been announced that McKinley CEO Albert Berriz and former Washtenaw County administrator Bob Guenzel would co-chair the group. Their first meeting was Friday, Sept. 16, the day after the AATA board met. Berriz stated at that first meeting that the group will meet three more times, and will produce a white paper by the end of this year.

Related to that countywide effort, the initial board for an unincorporated transit authority – a precursor to an eventual formal authority – could be seated by Oct. 20, the date of the AATA board’s next meeting. It would include representatives from Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and other districts throughout the county. [Full Story]

AATA OKs Release of Funding Report

At its Aug. 24, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board authorized release of the ”Volume 3: Funding Options Report” of its transit master plan (TMP). The TMP is part of the AATA’s effort to fulfill a countywide transportation mission.

Volume 3 of the TMP was authorized for release to “a panel of financial and public funding experts to review, refine, and adjust the document.” The first two volumes were released to the public earlier this year. [.pdf of draft "Volume 1: A Transit Vision for Washtenaw County"] [.pdf of draft "Volume 2: Transit Master Plan Implementation Strategy"]

Co-chairing the panel will be Albert Berriz, CEO of McKinley Inc., and Bob Guenzel, retired Washtenaw County administrator.

Funding recommendations made by the panel of experts are to be forwarded to the constituted unincorporated Act 196 board (U196) for further consideration and action. The transition of transportation service from the AATA to an authority formed under Act 196 of 1986 is the most likely scenario under which transit funding would be established on a countywide basis.

At its July 19, 2011 meeting, the board authorized the board chair to appoint three of its members to the U196 board and authorized the AATA’s CEO to use AATA resources in support of the U196. Update: The AATA has now made the report available in digital form: [.pdf of Part 1 of the Vol. 3 Funding Report] [.pdf of Part 2 of the Vol. 3 Funding Report]

This brief was filed from the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library, where the AATA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link] [Full Story]