AATA to Provide Some AAPS Bus Service

Starting in the fall of 2012, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority will provide bus service for three public school  routes – one for each of the comprehensive high schools in the Ann Arbor Public Schools system. The AATA service will be provided in lieu of services currently provided for those three school bus routes, for which the AAPS contracts with the Washtenaw Intermediate School District.

The information packet for the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board’s monthly meeting on June 21, 2012 includes as part of CEO Michael Ford’s written report to the AATA board: “… we have agreed to replace three school bus routes – one from each comprehensive high school – with AATA service. These high school students will use regular AATA service with their fare paid by AAPS.”

AAPS director of communications Liz Margolis confirmed in a telephone interview with The Chronicle that three school bus routes will be replaced with AATA service by extending existing AATA routes: #18 to serve Skyline High School students; #16 to serve Pioneer High School; and #22 to serve Huron High School. The fare, said Margolis, will be paid by AAPS at a rate of $0.50 per ride. The rides will be counted and regulated by issuing swipeable cards to those students who are entitled to use the bus service. The cards can be swiped through the bus fare box when students board. The regular fare for students on an AATA bus is $0.75.

The pending agreement between the AATA and AAPS was noted in The Chronicle’s April 19, 2012 AATA board meeting report. Context for the agreement includes this year’s AAPS budget discussions, which included the possibility of eliminating all busing service provided by AAPS. In the budget finally approved by the AAPS board on June 13, 2012, most of the basic school bus service was preserved. However, some specific transportation services were eliminated, including the midday shuttles for Community High School and some bus stops for Ann Arbor Open.

The AAPS board decided to preserve most transportation services for the coming 2012-13 school year – in part by tapping the district’s fund reserves. The reasoning for that decision was based in part on the concern that the timing of a decision, in May, to eliminate school bus service for the fall, would not leave sufficient time for families to plan for contingencies. At its May 23, 2012 meeting, the AAPS board directed the district’s staff to form an ad hoc transportation committee that is supposed to bring forward a recommendation on school transportation in early 2013. AATA’s Ford and other community members will be part of that committee.