Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Ann Arbor City Council Approves Four-Party
Public Transportation Agreement
Agreement provides process for moving forward
with a countywide public transportation authority
Ann Arbor – Discussions on how to expand public transportation throughout Washtenaw County will now move forward, after the Ann Arbor city council approved at its meeting last night the four-party Public Transportation Agreement by a 7-4 margin.
“The Transit Master Plan identifies some very significant transit needs that must be addressed if we are going to maintain the high quality of life that our businesses and residents have come to expect,” said Ann Arbor Transportation Authority CEO Michael Ford. “The Ann Arbor city council’s actions last night are an important step toward meeting those needs. A new countywide transit authority will improve existing public transportation service and expand access to underserved areas of our county.”
In 2010, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (TheRide) led a process of creating a 30-year Transit Master Plan for Washtenaw County. Several long-term needs were identified in the plan, including enhancing the regional economy, improving mobility for seniors and persons with disabilities, and protecting the local environment. The creation of a countywide transit authority is one of the first steps necessary to make the shared vision in the plan a reality.
The Public Transportation Agreement signed by the Ann Arbor city council details the actions that must be taken before a countywide transit authority can be formed. Those steps include:
Approval of the four-party agreement by the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti city councils, the Washtenaw County board of commissioners, and TheRide’s board of directors;
Ratification of new countywide transit authority’s articles of incorporation by the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti city councils;
Incorporation of a not-yet-operational countywide transit authority and a period for municipalities to decide to participate; and
Voter approval of a funding mechanism that will pay for the new services provided by the countywide transit authority.
Several safeguards are also included in the agreement to ensure current public transit services will be maintained. Should a new countywide transit authority be formed, both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti’s existing public transportation millages would be used to fund ongoing services within each community.
Once all of the steps outlined in the public transit agreement are completed, TheRide’s assets and responsibilities would be transferred to the new transit authority, which would be governed by a new 15 member board. Ann Arbor would receive seven appointments to the new board, with the other board members being represented from throughout Washtenaw County as follows (for a link to the map, click here):
West District – 1 member
North East District – 1 member
Middle North District – 1 member
Middle South District – 1 member
East District and Ypsilanti Township – 2 members
Pittsfield Township – 1 member
City of YpsilanitYpsilanti – 1 member
“Transportation needs do not start and stop at local municipal boundaries. That’s why TheRide has already begun to operate some regional services, such as express service to Chelsea and Canton, increased Route 4 service to Ypsilanti, and we’re launching a new service to Detroit Metro Airport,” said Ford. “The new countywide authority will be able to enhance public transportation options even further by taking into account the needs of all Washtenaw County communities.”
The Public Transportation Agreement now will go to the Ypsilanti city council and the Washtenaw County board of commissioners for their approval.
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