AATA board gives final approval to countywide transit authority plan
The four-party agreement that would create a new countywide transit authority in Washtenaw County won final approval Thursday, but several steps, including winning approval from voters, remain before the new agency can become a reality.
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
Then, the AATA board and representatives from other communities serving on what is known as an “unincorporated 196 board” would ask the county clerk to file incorporation papers to create a new authority.
Next, the AATA will notify all local governments of the filing. Each local government will have 30 days to indicate whether they will participate in the new authority. Communities that opt out will not be part of the authority nor receive any services paid for with voter-approved funding.
The new authority will then need to request and receive voter approval of a funding mechanism to pay for new services provided by the new transit authority.
The agreement approved Thursday was amended earlier this month by the Washtenaw County Commissioners and then approved by Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti city councils. Both councils already had given approval to the agreement before the amendment.
The amendment requires a four-fifths majority of the new transit authority board to approve changes to articles, instead of a two-thirds majority as originally written.
The draft five-year plan proposes more frequent bus service, extended service on weekdays and weekends and more direct service to be provided on major corridors and several local routes. Ann Arbor riders also would be able to reach neighboring communities in Washtenaw County through a combined, comprehensive system of fixed routes, expanded on-demand service and regional connector routes. Those outside of Ann Arbor would be able to use on-demand services and regional connector services to get to Ann Arbor and other communities within the county.
Ann Arbor’s and Ypsilanti’s existing public transportation millages would be used to fund ongoing services in each community.
After all of the steps outlined in the public transit agreement are completed, AATA’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 representing other transit districts throughout Washtenaw County.
“This is an exciting step — there is now a clear path for local governments to move forward to improve existing public transportation services in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti and to expand access to underserved areas of our county,” AATA Board Chairman Jesse Bernstein said in a press release.
County residents can learn more about the five-year transit program at one of eight public meetings scheduled in September. All meeting dates are listed at MovingYouForward.org. The program will be posted to the website in early September, AATA said.