Stories indexed with the term ‘RTA’

AAATA Gives CEO Retroactive Raise

The board of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority has voted to approve a raise for CEO Michael Ford that extends retroactively to October 2012. The board’s vote – to award 3% increases for the previous and current years – came at a special meeting held before the board’s annual retreat on June 10, 2014.

The context of the salary increase includes Ford’s selection as the new CEO for the southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority, but it’s not clear at this point whether Ford will take the job. At the June 10 meeting Ford said, “Right now, I’m still the CEO here…”

The increase for the period from October 2012 through September 2013 raised Ford’s base salary from $164,800 to $169,744. The … [Full Story]

AAATA’s CEO Is Finalist for RTA Job

Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority CEO Michael Ford has been named as one of three finalists for CEO of the southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority (RTA).

AAATA CEO Michael Ford spoke with Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living director for advocacy and education Carolyn Grawi.

AAATA CEO Michael Ford spoke with Carolyn Grawi, Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living director for advocacy and education, after the May 15, 2014 meeting of the AAATA board.

The four-county area of the RTA includes the counties of Washtenaw, Wayne, Macomb and Oakland as well as the city of Detroit. It was established by the Michigan legislature in late 2012.

The RTA’s hiring of a CEO has been frustrated by a lack of state funding. John Hertel, general manager of SMART (Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation), was appointed CEO by the RTA board last year, but he eventually left the post in early 2014 because no funding was available for his salary.

Crain’s Detroit Business reported the Friday, May 16 vote by the RTA’s executive and policy committee to recommend Ford as well as two other finalists for the job. [Full Story]

RTA Applications Accepted until Dec. 1, 2013

Applicants for one of two Washtenaw County seats on southeast Michigan’s Regional Transit Authority (RTA) will have until Dec. 1, 2013 to apply. Richard “Murph” Murphy was appointed last year for the seat on the newly established transit authority, which had only a one-year term associated with it.

However, Murphy is not seeking re-appointment to the seat – a point that was included in CEO Michael Ford’s report to the board of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority at its Nov. 21, 2013 meeting.

The RTA was established in a lame duck session of the Michigan legislature in late 2012, and includes a four-county region – Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw and Wayne – with each county making two appointments to the … [Full Story]

Ann Arbor Transit Board Weighs Funding

Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority special board meeting (July 23, 2013): No regular board meeting was scheduled for July, but the AAATA board called a special meeting toward the end of the month, to handle some unfinished business. That included: (1) authorization of a contract extension with Select Ride to provide required paratransit service under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); and (2) authorization of a contract to move a fire hydrant at the AAATA’s headquarters at 2700 S. Industrial Highway.

Fire hydrant at the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority headquarters at 2700 S. Industrial Highway, which to be moved as a result of a garage expansion project.

Fire hydrant at the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority headquarters at 2700 S. Industrial Highway, which needs to be moved as a result of a garage expansion project. (Photos by the writer.)

The possibility of the special meeting was indicated at the AAATA’s June 20, 2013 board meeting, when CEO Michael Ford mentioned that a special session might be called to handle some routine matters – as well as issues related to the addition of the city of Ypsilanti as a member of the AAATA.

Those related issues could have included a vote to place a question on the November 2013 ballot, asking voters in the cities of Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor to approve a transit millage to be levied by the AAATA. However, at the July 23 special meeting, Ford pointed toward a May election as more likely: “Obviously we’re going to be looking for a millage at some point in the near future. November was one opportunity, but I don’t think that’s probably going to happen,” Ford told the board. “I think we’re probably looking at May, to be realistic. We’re gearing up for some potential there.”

The two cities currently levy millages that are dedicated to transit, which are then passed through to the AAATA. The ability for the renamed AAATA to levy such a millage with voter approval was a power also enjoyed by the AATA, but was never exercised. The request for additional funding – through a levy by the AAATA – is based on an AAATA plan to increase and expand service in the two cities and through establishing longer-term purchase-of-service agreements with some adjoining townships.

The authorization of a $109,000 contract with Blaze Contracting to relocate the fire hydrant was the second time the board has authorized such a contract. Last year, the board approved a deal with RBV Contracting for the work. However, the contract was not awarded, because the necessary agreements with the University of Michigan, which owns adjoining land involved in the hydrant relocation, were not in place.

The board’s action to approve the Select Ride contract – which is valued at $3,016,871 for the coming year – came under time pressure to ensure that the AAATA could continue its paratransit service. The provision of complementary paratransit service for people with disabilities – as an alternative to the fixed-route service – is a requirement of the Federal Transit Administration under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Under the negotiated terms, the third year of Select Ride’s contract includes a one-time “stabilization payment” to Select Ride of $100,000 to be paid by July 31, 2013. The contract also includes a 5% ($150,000) increase for this final year of the contract. The staff memo in the board’s information packet attributed the increases to the rising consumer price index (CPI) and to fuel costs.

The state’s local bus operating (LBO) assistance – money from Act 51 that’s allocated to transportation agencies statewide using a complex formula – was a topic that arose during the July 23 special meeting in two ways. As a result of state legislative action, the AAATA now expects $800,000 of previous decreased funding from the state’s LBO to be restored. When the Michigan Dept. of Transportation applied the distribution formula last year, it resulted in about $800,000 less funding to the AAATA – and that had an impact on the AAATA’s FY 2013 budget. The agency is currently operating on slightly less than the 3-month cash reserve required under board policy. At the July 23 meeting, it was reported that a bank transfer of $500,000 had taken place, with the remaining amount expected later.

The LBO is also a source of funding that the southeast Michigan regional transit authority (RTA) would like to use to cover administrative expenses. The RTA was created in late 2012 through a lame-duck legislative action. The RTA is supposed to coordinate transit in a four-county region (Washtenaw, Wayne, Macomb and Oakland) that includes the city of Detroit. AAATA board members expressed some disappointment during their July 23 meeting that Gov. Rick Snyder and the state legislature had created the RTA without providing for adequate initial funding. The RTA could eventual obtain voter-approved funding through a millage or a vehicle registration fee.

AAATA board members objected to the fact that LBO money was being used for the administrative overhead of the newly created RTA, instead of being used to provide transportation “on the street” by the transit agencies in the four-county region. Those include DDOT (Detroit Dept. of Transportation) and the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART). The negative impact on the AAATA for the next year of funding for the RTA – using the state’s LBO assistance – is estimated at about $68,000. [Full Story]

Michigan: RTA

The Regional Transit Authority (RTA) is seeking applications for its citizens advisory committee. The four-county authority – which includes Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, and Washtenaw counties was established through an act of the Michigan legislature and signed into law in late 2012. The application is available online. [Source]

Ypsilanti a Topic for AATA Planning Retreat

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board meeting (May 16, 2013): Possible membership for the city of Ypsilanti in the AATA was a main theme of the board’s monthly meeting.

Ypsilanti mayor Paul Schreiber addressed the board at its May 16 meeting.

Ypsilanti mayor Paul Schreiber addressed the AATA board at its May 16 meeting. (Photos by the writer.)

Ypsilanti mayor Paul Schreiber attended the meeting in support of the city’s request for membership, and the board unanimously passed a resolution acknowledging the request. The resolution also directed staff to prepare for a detailed discussion on the issue at the board’s planning retreat, scheduled for May 22. Board members were positively inclined toward the request, but wanted to be sure that due diligence is done to ensure all the implications are understood.

Because the addition of the city of Ypsilanti would require revision to the AATA’s articles of incorporation, there’s some interest by some board members in approaching the changes in a way that could accommodate the addition of more members than just the city of Ypsilanti. It’s possible that Ypsilanti Township, Pittsfield Township or other jurisdictions might request membership in the near future. A more comprehensive approach to revising the articles, or delaying until all jurisdictions are admitted to the AATA at one time, could eliminate the need to revise the articles multiple times in quick succession.

The possible membership of Ypsilanti in the AATA is part of an effort to continue working with “urban core” communities in the immediate Ann Arbor area – after a more ambitious effort to extend AATA governance and services countywide in the summer of 2012 failed to gain traction.

A revision to the articles of incorporation would likely include a change in the AATA board membership structure. Ann Arbor mayor John Hieftje had indicated he’d support adding two seats to the current seven-member board, with one of the two additional seats to be appointed by the city of Ypsilanti.

Related to board membership, the May 16 meeting included a resolution of appreciation for the service of Jesse Bernstein on the board. He concluded a five-year term of service in April. Susan Baskett, currently an AAPS trustee, has been nominated as his replacement on the board. If she’s confirmed at the Ann Arbor city council’s May 20 meeting, she’ll join Eric Mahler as another new appointment. Mahler’s appointment to replace David Nacht was subjected to political wrangling at the council’s May 13 session, but he was confirmed on a 7-4 vote. [Full Story]

RTA Opt Out Legislation Introduced

A bill has been introduced to the Michigan state house of representatives that would allow Washtenaw County to opt out of the four-county regional transportation authority (RTA) – which was established by the lame duck legislature at the end of 2012. The proposed amendment to the RTA legislation, which applies to any county or municipality in the RTA region, would provide the possibility of an opt-out on a simple majority vote of the governing body within the first year after establishment of the authority. After more than a year, it would require a 2/3 majority vote. From the draft bill introduced on April 30, 2013 [HB 4637]:
Sec. 4A
(1) A county or a municipality may withdraw from an authority … [Full Story]

AATA on Regional Transit: It Needs Funding

At its Feb. 16, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority board passed a resolution expressing its intent to continue to work to improve transportation services and in support of a new regional transit authority (RTA) described in legislation currently pending in the state legislature.

The position expressed by the AATA is that the funding for any new RTA for southeast Michigan, described in legislation introduced in the state legislature in late January, should be supported with funds above and beyond the level expended by existing public transportation service. [For coverage of the proposed legislation, see "Michigan Regional Transit Bills Unveiled"] The legislation would create a four-county region for the RTA that would include Washtenaw, Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties.

From … [Full Story]