opinion: Passage of regional transit authority legislation puts AATA at risk in the future
The article on Dec. 6 on the regional transit authority written by Ryan Stanton stated "Washtenaw County Board Chairman Conan Smith, D-Ann Arbor, had been aggressively lobbying for passage of the RTA legislation with Washtenaw,” and with that support, the legislation passed on this same day to create a Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority including Washtenaw County.
To use popular slang, Smith "sold us out"! I have had the good fortune to spend several years in a finance leadership role with the AATA that gave me unique insight into the finances of the organization. Simply stated, the economic model that works so well today is highly reliant on federal funds.
The legislation passed today now squarely puts that funding at risk. It also takes a very functional and efficient local transportation authority and attempts to merge it with other dysfunctional organizations, all with the desire to create some regional fantasy that makes no sense.
Those other organizations not only have a well-established track record of dysfunctional operations and finances, they would love to have the funding base that the AATA has today...and guess what? With today's vote they got their hands on our money and we risk losing local control of what we have come to know as the AATA. Thank you Mr. Smith, we will look back on this day and pinpoint who exactly was the architect of putting "our" AATA at risk, your fiduciary to the community clearly took a back seat to your other objectives.
Albert M. Berriz