AATA Board: Get Bids to Rebuild Blake

Also, extending service countywide, financial transparency

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (Dec. 16, 2009): At its regular meeting Wednesday night, the AATA board gave authorization to staff to solicit bids for the demolition, design and construction of a replacement for the Blake Transit Center, located in downtown Ann Arbor on Fourth Avenue.

AATA temporary board room

At its headquarters on South Industrial Avenue, the AATA board tried out a makeshift venue for its Wednesday board meeting, because it offered an additional 12 seats for audience members, compared to the actual boardroom. Conceptual plans for the new Blake Transit transit center downtown include a boardroom. (Photos by the writer.)

The conceptual design calls for the new center to be constructed on the same footprint as the old center, with flexibility to expand, if abutting property were to become available.

The hope for flexibility on the Blake Transit Center design had also surfaced earlier in the day, at the Downtown Development Authority‘s transportation committee meeting. There, the concept of Fourth Avenue as a transit corridor had been floated by DDA executive director Susan Pollay.

In other business, the board kept the discussion going on the question of how to proceed in expanding its service to include more of Washtenaw County. But they did not consider any resolutions related to formation of a new, expanded public transit authority. As part of the effort to expand, a general board consensus emerged that the public needed to be educated about what public transit is, and how the AATA worked.

Related to the need to educate the public about what the AATA does was the treasurer’s report, submitted by Ted Annis, which recommended greater financial transparency through posting various financial data on the AATA website. The specific suggestion to post employee salaries was not embraced by all on the board, but the suggestions were remanded to the performance monitoring and external relations committee (PMER).

And a response by staff to the November treasurer’s report highlighted a potential point of contention in estimating revenues available for funding an expanded service. Specifically, how much revenue could be expected from fares in an expanded service?

CEO Michael Ford’s report to the board contained a bright bit of news: AATA’s employees had raised $4,500 through its adopt-a-family program, enough to sponsor two families. Board member Jesse Bernstein made a motion to acknowledge AATA staff for those efforts, which was unanimously approved.

Blake Transit Center Replacement

At its previous regular meeting on Nov. 18, the board had discussed the Blake Transit Center and the need to address its current dilapidated condition. In board discussion on Wednesday evening, it was the poor condition of the structure, plus a narrow window of opportunity for use of available funds, that led the board to pull the trigger on the initial authorization to solicit bids for the demolition, design and construction of a new transit facility on the building’s existing footprint.

That required some alteration of the original resolution, which had authorized the demolition, design and construction activity without explicitly building in what board member Sue McCormick called “a need for the board to pull the trigger a second time on this” – namely, the approval of the contracts.

The narrow window of the funding opportunity was laid out by Chris White, AATA manager of service development. AATA has a $1.6 million approved federal grant, which is matched at 25% by the state. The federal grant has no expiration date, but at the AATA’s most recent triennial review by the Federal Transit Administration in 2009, the lack of activity on the grant was noted. Further, the state grant is due to expire in September of 2010, after already having been extended two years at the AATA’s request.

There is an additional earmark to the AATA for $735,000 in the previously authorized federal transportation bill, with $183,750 in state matching funds. But on reauthorization of the federal transportation bill, those earmarked funds would be lost. The timing on that reauthorization is uncertain.

[The reauthorization of the federal transportation bill is being followed closely by city of Ann Arbor staff, because it is hoped that the influence of Congressman John Dingell, among others, can achieve an earmark that would help pay for the Stadium bridge reconstruction.]

Board treasurer Ted Annis asked whether Fuller Station – the proposed new structure to be built near the University of Michigan hospital campus in a city-university partnership – was factored into the decision about Blake, given that 50% of all passengers to Blake are transfer passengers. [Chronicle coverage of Fuller Station: "Council OKs Transit, Recycling, Shelter"]

Board member David Nacht replied to Annis that the question had been raised. However, Nacht said, there was not a comparative analysis done considering all the various options. Rather, the planning and development committee had considered the ADA compliance and deterioration issues, Nacht said, and considered the open variables of other transit initiatives to be not yet answerable. They had therefore concluded that their fiduciary duty was “to take care of business now.”

At the Downtown Development Authority’s transportation committee meeting earlier in the day, executive director Susan Pollay had focused on the 50% of those passengers who did not transfer, but rather had downtown Ann Arbor as a destination point. The DDA, she said, needed to make sure that for those passengers, the area around the Blake Transit Center was a welcoming place. DDA board member Newcombe Clark concurred with Pollay’s suggestion of putting “everything on the table” – including Fourth Avenue as a transit hub, possibly integrating the Fourth and William parking structure, with getDowntown offices constructed in that structure.

During Wednesday’s AATA meeting, board member Jesse Bernstein referred to Nacht’s “open variables” in subsequent deliberations, citing his own “other jokers in the deck”: The WALLY north-south commuter rail, development on the Fifth Avenue lot next to the library, and development on the old YMCA site at Fifth and William, which is now a surface parking lot. Annis described what the board was doing as “making a decision in an imperfect world.”

During public commentary at the conclusion of the meeting, Carolyn Grawi of the Center for Independent Living lamented the fact that up to now the CIL had not been included as a stakeholder in conceptual design work for the replacement transit center. During the meeting, board member Sue McCormick suggested that the AATA’s local advisory council should be included as a member on the project team itself.

McCormick also suggested that someone from Ann Arbor’s city staff needed to be a part of the project advisory committee – there would be right-of-way issues to deal with.

AATA board room

The regular AATA boardroom. This room was not used for the most recent meeting of the board.

The conceptual design, done by the architectural and engineering firm DLZ, includes two levels on the existing 3,675 sq. ft. footprint of BTC. There would be a canopy covering the entire area, which would ultimately reduce maintenance costs – there’d be less need to shovel and spread ice-melter in the winter, for example.

Annis expressed his hope that the new design would also eliminate the need to staff the facility with a security guard.

In the future, after the replacement had been built on the existing footprint, there would be room for expansion outwards towards Fifth Avenue, as well as upwards to three stories, according to architects from DLZ. Based on Ann Arbor’s zoning allowance for floor area ratios, they said, it would be possible to build 50,000 sq. ft.

The conceptual design also shows the possibility of a boardroom in the new Blake Transit Center. Board member Jesse Bernstein expressed some reservations about the need for a boardroom in the new facility, saying he was hard-pressed to justify that.

Outcome: The board unanimously approved the resolution to solicit bids for design and construction of a new Blake Transit Center.

Treasurer’s Report: Video, Website

The adequacy of the existing boardroom was one of two main points in the one-page treasurer’s report for December [searchable PDF scan of December treasurer's report]. In that report, Ted Annis cites several aspects of the current boardroom that are inadequate:

The current meeting room is too small and it has no CTN broadcast capability. Frequently, there is not sufficient room to seat all attendees. There is not sufficient room to seat the CEO and his staff together and in proximity to the Board table. The CEO is forced to sit at the Board table and his staff are forced to sit in the audience and participate from there. There is no timer to measure the speaking limit of public speakers and there is no early warning signal for the speaker. There is no built-in projection capability. There is no microphone capability. There is no video record capability.

The Board meeting room needs to be enlarged (by about twice) and equipped to eliminate the above noted shortcomings. An inspection of the meeting room at the AADL Main Library (fourth floor) would seem to be useful.

Expressing support for the idea of video recording, board member Jesse Bernstein suggested that the video could be digitized and made available on the AATA website.

In board discussion of video recording their meetings, board member David Nacht said that he was personally in favor of video recording meetings, but noted that the board had recently voted down a proposal to video record meetings, and that lacking new information, out of respect for previous board decisions he was disinclined to support it. Responding to Nacht, Annis said that the “new information” could be that the AATA had a new CEO and was exploring an extension of its service to more areas of the county.

Thomas Partridge, who appears frequently for public commentary at AATA board meetings, has in the past often suggested that the board change its venue to the CTN studios located across the street from AATA headquarters, which would provide video recording capability as well as additional space.

In an effort to accommodate more people, the board on Wednesday met in the AATA headquarters lunch room, which afforded space for 12 additional chairs. The narrow configuration, however, resulted in a considerable distance – probably longer than an AATA bus – between the far side of the board table and the rearmost audience seat. Audience members periodically asked board members to speak up so they could be heard. On the plus side, The Chronicle was able to sit at a table, which was more conducive to notetaking.

The other main point of the treasurer’s report for this month was the recommendation to post various pieces of financial data on the AATA website – in the interest of increasing the transparency of the organization as it tried to make clear to the public what the AATA does and how it does it. Those data include:

  1. The complete AATA check register for the previous full year.
  2. The names, titles, and actual calendar year compensation of all personnel (without Social Security numbers) starting in January 2010 with 2009 payroll data.
  3. The aggregate overtime for the previous two full years.
  4. The travel and expense reports for the previous two years.
  5. The (newly developed) “Report to the Treasurer Financial Statements.”
  6. The union contract.
  7. The MRide contract. [MRide is a program that allows University of Michigan affiliates to ride AATA buses without paying a fare when they board.]
  8. The POSA charges. [POSA stands for "purchase of service agreements," and is the mechanism by which the AATA provides service to municipalities other than Ann Arbor, where service is funded by a city millage.]
  9. The cost/bus service hour for the last two years with the comparative data for Bay Metro, Mich.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Bakersfield, Calif.; and Reno, Nev.
  10. The monthly report by route showing ridership, including MRide.

Regarding items 2 and 3, board chair Paul Ajegba noted that as a Michigan Dept. of Transportation employee, he’d been on the receiving end of the publication of salary information, and reported that the practice was not good for morale. In lieu of posting that information, he said, it would be better to provide information on how to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act, so that people who wanted salary information could obtain it through the FOIA.

The recommendations from the treasurer’s report were remanded to the performance monitoring and external relations committee.

Response to Previous Treasurer’s Report

CEO Michael Ford’s report to the board included analysis of the treasurer’s report from the previous month. In that report was a sketch-up of a possible budget within which a consultant might be asked to design a countywide service system. The budget assumes that Ann Arbor’s city transportation tax would be eliminated, with all county residents – including Ann Arbor city property owners – paying a 1 mill county millage:

        Just A2 Tax  Countywide Tax
Taxes   $9,700,000   $15,000,000
POSAs    1,141,000             0
Fares    4,334,000     7,000,000
State    6,754,000     6,750,000
Federal  3,170,000     4,000,000
Other      361,000       500,000
Total  $25,460,000   $33,250,000

There’s a fundamental disagreement between Annis and AATA staff, not reflected explicitly in the tables used for summarizing the respective scenarios, about whether the bus system can be operated at $84 per service hour, which Annis’ scenario assumes. In the most recent year-to-date performance report, the AATA is operating at $106.50 per service hour.

On the same assumption as Annis – eliminating Ann Arbor’s city tax, and levying a 1 mill tax countywide – staff analysis included two additional columns to split out city services and county services:

        Just A2 Tax  City Svcs.  County Svcs. Countywide Tax
Taxes   $9,700,000   $4,700,000  $10,300,000  $15,000,000
POSAs    1,141,000            0            0            0
Fares    4,334,000    3,234,000    1,617,000    4,851,000
State    6,754,000    5,015,000    4,751,000    9,766,000
Federal  3,170,000    3,170,000      830,000    4,000,000
Other      361,000      361,000            0      361,000
Total  $25,460,000  $16,480,000  $17,498,000  $33,978,000

Where the two tables differ most dramatically is in the assumed fare revenues and state operating assistance.

Staff analysis assumes that service within the city of Ann Arbor would necessarily drop, because of the decreased contribution (by half) by Ann Arbor taxpayers to the system, and that fare revenues would reflect that drop. From the staff report it’s not clear why there’s an assumed increase in state funding – it effectively balances out the assumed loss in fares. In any case, the budget for a countywide system on either the treasurer’s assumptions or AATA staff assumptions would be quite comparable: $33,250,000 versus $33,978,000.

It’s worth pointing out that if fares are taken as an indicator of the amount of service provided by the AATA, then on the Annis scenario, a 30% increase in revenues would result in a 62% increase in the amount of service systemwide. On the AATA staff scenario, a 33% increase in revenues would result in a 12% increase in the amount of service systemwide. Baked into the Annis scenario, however, is a roughly 20% improvement in operating efficiency, as measured by dollars per service hour.

Countywide Expansion

The AATA held a special meeting on Dec. 8, to which they’d invited the heads of other transit agencies as well as their own legal consultants, to discuss extended service by the AATA to include more parts of the county. [Chronicle coverage: "AATA Gets Advice on Countywide Transit"]

Reporting out from the performance monitoring and external relations committee on Wednesday, Jesse Bernstein said that what they’d concluded from the board’s special meeting was that they need to do a better job educating the public about what public transit is and how to evaluate how the AATA delivers transit services compared to other communities. He said he felt they were poised to do that.

When the board came to focus explicitly on the countywide issue, board member David Nacht spoke of the importance of knowing what kind of service the AATA wanted to build before talking to the public. He thus suggested it would perhaps be in order to begin to develop concrete plans at the level of establishing priorities –  service to Ypsilanti could be a greater priority than providing access to the far reaches of Washtenaw County.

In response to Nacht, Sue McCormick said that her thoughts were nearly 180-degrees to Nacht’s thinking. She said she’d been impressed with Bob Foy’s comments at the board’s special meeting a week prior – Foy is general manager of Flint’s Mass Transit Authority. And Foy, McCormick reminded her colleagues, had stressed the importance of engaging each community and asking what kind of service they wanted. CEO Michael Ford said that AATA staff was prepared to engage communities and had a list of focus groups.

That brought Bernstein back to his point that in terms of timing and staging, the AATA needed to help the whole county understand what public transit is.

Board member Charles Griffith reported that he was not entirely convinced, based on the special board meeting, that the AATA necessarily needed to convert to an Act 196 transit authority – AATA is currently an Act 55 authority.

Responding to Griffith, McCormick noted that one “toggle point” on the Act 55 versus Act 196 question would be if the Plymouth-State street connector study came back with a recommendation for a fixed-rail system, there’d be a distinct advantage to Act 196. Act 196 provides for the possibility of a 25-year millage if it supports a fixed-guideway system.

Nacht came around to saying that he agreed with what his colleagues had said, and that the AATA was in the best position to play an educational role. While he acknowledged that yes, the AATA needed to hear what the demand was, the public also needed to be educated about what is realistic.

Nacht raised the possibility of beefing up staff for the educational component in the same way that they’d hired someone to manage the WALLY project.

Board chair Paul Ajegba suggested remanding the question to the committees.

During public commentary at the conclusion of the meeting, Jim Mogensen spoke to the board’s perception that they could determine their own timeline for the countywide question. He noted that at the Dec. 5 Ann Arbor city council budget retreat, the topic of the city’s transit millage money had arisen, and that the city council was looking at the transit millage as a potential solution to budget issues. He suggested that the board needed a plan in the event that a countywide millage didn’t pass and that the Ann Arbor transit millage was cut in half. He noted that it was not just his own pessimism that led him to think of this scenario – the telephone survey of voter attitudes countywide showed just barely over half of voters were inclined favorably towards a millage.


CEO Michael Ford reported that in partnership with the union, Transit Workers Union Local #171, AATA staff had donated 179 hours of vacation time to raise $4,500 dollars to sponsor two families through SOS Community Services.

Board member Jesse Bernstein moved that the board express its appreciation to the staff for its efforts in that regard, which they did unanimously.

Other Public Commentary

Clark Charnetski: Filling in for the chair of the local advisory council (LAC), Rebecca Burke, who could not attend the board meeting, Charnetski apprised the board of changes in the terminology for bylaws, and on work the LAC was doing to develop a policy on no-shows for the A-Ride service.

Thomas Partridge: Partridge lamented the fact that there was no mention of the board’s special meeting on Dec. 8 on the agenda, and called on the board to begin planning a comprehensive north-south, east-west transportation system that included on-demand service in all areas of the county. He suggested that such a system could become an economic stimulator for the entire county. He also encouraged board members to ride the bus and imagine negotiating some of the more difficult turns the drivers have to make in the dark.

Present: Charles Griffith, David Nacht, Ted Annis, Jesse Bernstein, Paul Ajegba, Sue McCormick

Absent: Rich Robben

Next regular meeting: Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. at AATA headquarters, 2700 S. Industrial Ave., Ann Arbor [confirm date]


  1. December 17, 2009 at 11:37 am | permalink

    Thank you as always for a comprehensive account.

    Two red flags (at least):

    1. “Staff analysis assumes that service within the city of Ann Arbor would necessarily drop” (with conversion to county authority minus the Ann Arbor millage): that is alarming and counterproductive to our vision of an increasingly transit-based transportation system.

    2. It is useful that you pinpointed the “fixed guideway” contemplated as a rail component to the Plymouth-State Street connector. This is one of the “signature routes” in the Ann Arbor Transportation Plan Update. I stated in a recent blog post that I believe the intent is to redirect the Ann Arbor millage to support of these routes and the Fuller Road Station.

    The importance of the “fixed guideway” (which can also be a rapid transit bus-only route) is that Act 196 allows a millage to be passed only every 25 years. Without a fixed guideway, the millage must be renewed every 5 years. This leaves the transit system vulnerable to the variable moods of the voting public. It appears that we are talking about adopting Act 196 with the presumption that a rail corridor will be installed. That means either a huge (and expensive) rearrangement of our transportation corridors in a relatively short time or the reliance on a millage that must be renewed more frequently.

    I have wondered whether the “fixed guideway” was going to be WALLY, but that appears to be a fading possibility for the time being. The other possibility is the east-west conventional rail project that SEMCOG has been managing. But that means that the millage would have to be used in part to pay for it, which would leave less money for transit within Washtenaw County.

  2. By Tom Hollyer
    December 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm | permalink

    Vivienne wrote… “Without a fixed guideway, the millage must be renewed every 5 years. This leaves the transit system vulnerable to the variable moods of the voting public.”

    That is a powerful argument for not having a “fixed guideway.”

  3. By Dave Askins
    December 17, 2009 at 1:39 pm | permalink

    Re: [1] and [2] and the frequency of millage renewal. The 5-year and 25-year numbers are the maximums. So under an Act 196 authority that supports a fixed guideway, you could ask voters to approve a millage up to 25 years, but also choose to ask voters to approve a 10-year millage (or any number of years less than 25).

    Being forced put a millage before voters isn’t something that’s feared in other communities, say Flint. As Bob Foy — from Flint’s MTA — explained at the special board meeting, the somewhat cobbled together “layer cake” system he manages has three different millages, with the result that in 3 out of every five years, Flint voters are looking at a ballot question for their transportation millage. And they renew them without much trouble. Bay City’s countywide system doesn’t have any trouble passing its millage every five years.

    I think Sue McCormick nailed it when she urged a course that would identify what kinds of service people actually want. Then you look at where they live and put together the legal transit authority based on a geography that will support those services in those areas. Then passing a millage will depend more on what quality standard the AATA meets, and not as much on whether someone wants the service at all.

  4. December 17, 2009 at 1:39 pm | permalink

    If I understand your comment, you mean that the voters should be deciding what taxes to pay, right? I don’t disagree with that in principle but for a transit system, long-term planning and maintenance needs a reliable source of operating funds. Currently Ann Arbor has a non-expiring millage that is part of the city charter. This has enabled AATA to get where we are today.

  5. December 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm | permalink

    It about time dem foodstamps come

  6. December 17, 2009 at 1:52 pm | permalink

    My comment #4 was in response to #2.

    #3: Dave, what about the example of Kalamazoo? They set up for a countywide system and millage and the vote failed in 2008. They asked for a reduced amount to cover “demand” services only countywide earlier this year and it passed but they still haven’t achieved their goal of countywide fixed route service. Also, Grand Rapids has had some mixed result with its “cookie tray” (my invention) system of varying services and mutual contracts among several municipalities. I think they are still trying to get another millage through.

    Jerry Lax made some very good points at the December 8 meeting about the most significant part of putting together a county/regional system is the “political and diplomatic question”; he spoke of putting together different statutes as building blocks to make an agreed-upon structure, which supports your final point, I think.

  7. By Tom Hollyer
    December 17, 2009 at 2:20 pm | permalink

    Re [4] You understood perfectly. I disagree that a transit system should be treated any differently.

    The broader point regarding expanding to a county-wide system is that we really don’t know what the people of the county want. It is clear that the politicians in A2 are generally in favor for their own reasons, and the board of the AATA is generally in favor, for its own reasons. But we really don’t know what the potential customers want, what levels of service would work for them, nor whether they are interested in paying for it through some mixture of taxes and fees.

    The AATA board discussion surrounding “educating” the public sounds suspiciously like a “we know better what’s good for you” sales pitch.

    Dave has it right in his last paragraph in [3].

  8. By Dave Askins
    December 17, 2009 at 3:15 pm | permalink

    Re: [6] and examples of communities where transportation millages have failed or passed only with great difficulty.

    In [3] I didn’t mean to suggest that transportation millages are easy to pass. I meant only to suggest that there are some communities, like Flint and Bay City, where it appears that the transit authorities now go into their regular millage votes with some confidence that it will pass.

    And in those communities where a transportation millage passes, I think it’s likely due to the fact that the voters have a clear understanding of the transit they’re being offered, and there’s a good match between the offer and what they want (either for themselves or for others), delivered at a price that’s reasonable.

  9. By emily b
    December 17, 2009 at 5:06 pm | permalink

    Its important to educate the public, not in order to tell them what they SHOULD want, but in order to help them understand the different possibilities involved with public transportation. Many people in this country, especially in this car-culture dominant state, have a very negative view of public transportation, which may or may not be based in reality. The problem is, of course, we get what we pay for. And if we put little money into public transportation, we will get little out of it.

    I believe more people would ride public transportation if it were more efficient: more frequent service, service to more areas, more rapid service. But in order to make it more efficient, we have to lay down a lot of money to start, to create more routes, or express routes, or a dedicated bus rapid transit lane, for example. That’s why it is necessary to educate voters on these issues, and to help them visualize the possibilities. And that’s why it is better to have millages on a longer-term basis.

    It’s not that I think people are too stupid to figure out what’s best for them, but there have been a lot of cultural forces going against public transit, and few people of any education level know much about the possibilities of public transit. Really, it’s just something you have to experience to “get”.

    Having lived in Portland, Oregon, I know how a good public transit system functions. However, it is not perfect, and has it’s downsides, just as driving does, on a personal comfort basis. You have to deal with being in close proximity with people from all walks of life, which is something most people in America have very little experience with. We are also very protective of our personal space, which I think is partly borne of our experience as car-drivers. The ways we get around shape who we are, and habits are difficult to break.

    But if we care about global warming, pollution, and the economic and cultural vitality of our cities, we need to change the way we view public transit. It is the future, and we need to make it what we want it to be, because it is inevitable that we as a society are going to shift toward it.

  10. December 17, 2009 at 8:15 pm | permalink

    Not to get to far off the topic, but preceding comments triggered some thoughts that led to this: Since city residents and other property owners pay the taxes that support AATA, might it be worthwhile to give those taxpayers a credit (in whatever form would be efficient–tokens, punchcard, whatever) for a number of ‘free’ bus rides each year.

    I’m thinking that it might give us all a way to vote with our rides that could provide some useful information, as well as more tightly connect us with our investment. I’ve ridden the bus in the past but don’t much anymore. I can imagine that those who don’t ride The Ride would find it difficult to support enthusiastically. Any thoughts on the potential value of something like this? (I’m less interested in thoughts on the practicalities of implementing something–let’s not constrain our thinking from the outset.)

  11. December 18, 2009 at 6:31 am | permalink

    Steve, the rides are already discounted. The fares do not amount to the cost of each ride. I think that what most motivates people to use the service is the convenience and/or necessity. I actually possess a free senior pass now but don’t ride very often because the service to my neighborhood doesn’t run at night or weekends and only hourly during the day, so I have to plan very carefully if I want to use the bus.

  12. By Leslie Morris
    December 18, 2009 at 8:51 am | permalink

    I second the number one “red flag” raised by Vivienne Armentrout: “Staff amalysis assumes that service within the city of Ann Arbor would necessarily drop, because of the decreased contribution (by half) by Ann Arbor taxpayers to the system.”

    A county-wide millage needs very strong support from Ann Arbor voters to pass. The strongest contingent of that support should be current AATA users. What current Ann Arbor city transit users want is better service (that is, more buses on heavily used routes at peak times, and more evening and weekend service.) If the permanent transit millage is not used at least in part to improve transit service within Ann Arbor, potential strong supporters of a new millage will be converted into equally strong opponents. Any decrease in service to Ann Arbor city users will generate a campaign to “Save Our Buses”.

    I think the designers of any successful county-wide transit program are likely to take this into account. If they don’t, the proposed millage will not pass.

  13. December 18, 2009 at 10:24 am | permalink

    re: Vivienne’s “red flag” mentioned in 1 and 12, these financial projections are based on Ted Annis’ assumption that a 1 mill county-wide tax would replace the 2 mill Ann Arbor tax. He’s not acting on the donut or the layer cake model. He envisions an equal tax across the county (is that a pizza crust model?).

    re: the question of education, I think there’s a bit of a chicken and an egg thing going on here. First, I doubt many people will pay attention until there’s actually a question on the ballot. Second, a lot of the service that may be most valuable to rural parts of the county aren’t very visible. Things like A-Ride and Door-through-Door service could be very important, but they don’t have the visibility that fixed bus routes do. So, it will be hard to do good education and feedback until there is a plan and something to vote on.

    I’m not saying there shouldn’t be efforts to do education and get feedback. Personally, I would like the consultants to come up with a few different scenarios that the AATA could get feedback on from people in all parts of the county prior to finalizing a plan.

  14. December 18, 2009 at 1:44 pm | permalink

    Dumb question, but what’s wrong with the current transit center? It seems to be doing just fine in its primary function, i.e. providing somewhere sheltered for people to stand (outside) while they wait for their bus.

    Twenty-two years isn’t very old. Parts of the downtown library are close to fifty years old and they’re making it last.

  15. By Joel Batterman
    December 18, 2009 at 3:36 pm | permalink

    Another point of clarification: Would bus rapid transit (BRT) using a dedicated busway not qualify as a “fixed guideway” system? I thought I may have read previously that it would, but McCormick’s comment doesn’t suggest that.

  16. By Dave Askins
    December 18, 2009 at 3:52 pm | permalink

    Re [15]. Yes, bus rapid transit is a “fixed guideway.” McCormick’s comment is also accurate as far as it went, namely, if the result of the connector study is that a light rail system is analyzed as feasible, then Act 196 (with its provision for a 25-year millage for fixed guideway systems) would pose a benefit. The benefit would also extend to BRT if that were recommended as a feasible alternative as a part of the study. But there’s a possibility that the north-south connector study shows that the numbers just don’t work to make any sort of signature service feasible along that corridor.

  17. By Jens Zorn
    December 18, 2009 at 9:03 pm | permalink

    If, from time to time, a larger board meeting room is needed at the 4th Avenue location, perhaps a suitable space could be found in the Public Library, just across the street.