More Buses vs. Better Transit Now: the two sides square off in preparation for the May 6 vote on the future of mass transit in Ypsi/Arbor

On May 6, the citizens of Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township are going to have an opportunity to go to their local polling places and weigh in on whether or not they want to enact a milage that would allow the Ann Arbor Area Transit Authority (AAATA) to plan to dramatically expand services. The millage, if it passes, will generate a total of $4.3 million for new and expanded services annually through 2019, increasing AAATA services by an estimated 44%, beginning in August of this year. (This would add approximately 90,000 hours of additional transit services per year.) Today we’re joined by three proponents of the millage increase; Alexis Blizman, the Manager of the More Buses campaign, Martha Valadez, More Buses Field Organizer, and Richard Murphy, the Co-Chair of Keep Ypsi Rollin’.

morebusesMARK: As of a day or two ago, the More Buses campaign has a formal opposition group, calling itself Better Transit Now. From what I can tell, their primary objection is that they don’t want to pay for services that they aren’t themselves using. Lou Glorie, one of the people behind the campaign, told the Ann Arbor News that, while she has nothing against mass transportation, she’d like to see it better tailored to the needs of those taxpayers, like her, who who don’t currently use it. “Ann Arbor citizens and taxpayers have been paying a millage for decades and still have a lot of trouble getting from point A to point B to point C,” she said. “This particular millage, if you read the language, there’s no guarantee that services for the people who are paying for it will improve or change in any meaningful way.” I’m trying to keep an open mind, but it sounds to me as though she’s saying that she, and others, are tired of subsidizing transportation for the poor, and that they won’t be happy until such time that the AAATA offers shuttle buses directly from their doorsteps to, say, Whole Foods… Sorry if that sounds catty, but…

MARTHA: The small but loud opposition relies on this argument to fire people up. “We don’t benefit, so we’ll vote no.” They present it as black and white, and ignore the general benefits, which are numerous. They don’t acknowledge the fact that mass transit alleviates road congestion, improves safety, makes parking spaces easier to come by, etc. If they don’t have a bus stop right outside their house, and routes that take them directly from their first appointment of the day to their last, and back home again, they’re completely against it. They’re demanding something of a bus service that’s just not realistic. The truth is, our local transit service has been continually improving (AirRide service to Detroit Metro Airport, expanded NightRide service, increased frequency of service on routes 4 and 5, etc.), and there will be even more options for people if this millage is passed.

MURPH: I haven’t looked at the opposition’s material enough yet to render an opinion on the specifics. In the Ann Arbor News article that you reference, people behind the anti-millage campaign mention that they don’t like the hub-and-spoke system that the AAATA currently utilizes, as it forces people to come into downtown Ann Arbor in order to change buses. They, it would seem, would prefer more neighborhood-to-neighborhood services, without requiring downtown connections. To this, I’d say…

(a) the math (and the money) of operating a transit system means that a primarily radial (hub-and-spoke) system is actually the most effective way to provide everybody the fastest possible trip; if you try to run a lot of routes connecting all possible non-downtown destinations, you spread your resources so thinly that everybody gets worse service, and,

(b) the proposed service plan actually would make more of these non-downtown connections possible in Ann Arbor: the robust hub-and-spoke network is already in place, and this proposed millage would allow the AAATA start building onto it, making more of a “spider web” network. (You can check out the proposed service map for Ann Arbor here.)

So, given that, I would say that the Better Transit Now folks are opposing a plan that would give them more of what they want, while demanding system changes that would actually make Ann Arbor transit service worse overall, because they don’t have a comprehensive understanding of how system planning works. (For anybody who wants a good overview of these topics, the book Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives is very accessible and highly regarded.)

MARK: And I guess we just have to take them at their word that they actually do care about mass transit, and want a system that works better for everyone, right? I mean, it is possible, isn’t it, that their “We’d love to fund it, and use it, but it just doesn’t work” criticism is completely disingenuous… that they’re happy with their cars, don’t intend to ever take the bus, and are just raising these issues because they don’t want to pay a penny more in taxes than they already do?

ALEXIS: I don’t want to speculate as to their motivation, as we’ve not yet heard all of their arguments… I would say, however, that while it’s true that not everyone uses public transportation, everyone needs it. Public transportation provides benefits to the whole community by allowing people to get to the goods and services they need. It allows more people to contribute to the workforce and brings money into the local economy. It attracts and keeps young talent in the community. It allows those who either don’t drive or can’t drive to maintain their independence. It reduces congestion on the streets and in the parking lots. It reduces pollution and it improves the overall quality of life in the community.

MARK: What are the other criticisms that you’re hearing concerning this newly proposed AAATA expansion plan?

MURPH: You hear from some that the AAATA has become too focused on “outside commuters, downtown business interests, and the University of Michigan.” According to these folks, the A2-Detroit and WALLY commuter rail projects, park-and-ride type service, and the go!pass program are seen as not serving Ann Arbor “residents”. I mostly disagree with this. I think the A2-Detroit line would be a benefit to a lot of Ann Arbor residents working in Dearborn and Detroit (or open up job options in those areas). Furthermore, a survey about the go!pass from last year showed a majority of downtown Ann Arbor commuters live within 4 miles of work (meaning they are Ann Arbor residents). And things like park-n-ride service help keep commuters off city streets, both mitigating traffic and reducing the need for downtown parking. (Based on survey responses, the go!pass is estimated at keeping an estimated 1,000 cars out of downtown on a daily basis, or enough to fill about two more library lot parking structures.)

I think a lot of the criticism of downtown/commuter-oriented transit services has to do with the desire to stop further downtown development and/or expansions by the University of Michigan. I personally don’t think this “starve the beast” tactic has much hope of blunting UM’s expansion, or cooling the development interest in downtown, though.

MARK: The other thing that I’ve heard is that these folks don’t trust the AATA to actually spend the money on what they say they’ll spend the money on… They seem to think that, if the millage goes forward, it’s possible that the funding could be diverted toward rail, for instance. Carolyn Grawi of the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living, who, like all of you, is active in the More Buses campaign, has countered by saying that the proposed five year AAATA plan has “absolutely no (allocation for) rail.” In spite of this, though, Glorie has said that there are “no guarantees,” and that the AAATA has spent money on rail in the past.

MURPH: AAATA has gone out of their way to keep the various rail and commuter express services separate and outside of the millage-funded activities. The ballot language even says the funding will be used, “To improve public bus, van, and paratransit services”. It seems like the opposition is not only accusing them of lying, but of having the intent to illegally spend the funding on things other than what they put on the ballot. I think that’s extremely unlikely. (AAATA has received Federal grants to spend on studies for the rail projects, which I expect they’ll continue to use for that purpose, and I hope they’ll keep cooperating with SEMCOG and MDOT and RTA efforts to get the A2-Detroit commuter up and running, but that work would only happen as they can find those outside funds, not with this millage.)

BusAATA_WCCMARTHA: The members of this opposition have been in dialogue forever about the services provided, the millage, the five-year plan, and so on. They just refuse the truth and, instead, produce false information, stirring up fear. Public meetings on the five-year plan were held all across the community, and information has been shared openly concerning the millage.

MARK: How much money are we talking about? I’ve heard that the owner of a $200,000 house (with a $100,000 taxable value), would be $70 a year. Is that correct? And would I be right to assume that this would be the case whether or not someone lived in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti or Ypsilanti Township?

MURPH: Yes. The ask is 0.7 mills, which is $70 per $100,000 of taxable value. And it’s the same rate across the AAATA area of City of Ann Arbor, City of Ypsilanti, and Ypsilanti Township, though, of course, property values vary. (In the City of Ypsi, the average home sale price in the last six months is about $125,000, which would be about $44 / year.)

MARK: And how is the money allocated between communities? To what degree, if any, are Ann Arbor taxpayers shouldering the burden for the rest of the Washtenaw County?

MARTHA: People involved in this anti-millage campaign complain that Ann Arbor is subsidizing services for Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township. This just isn’t true. Each individual community would, under this newly proposed plan, be paying for the services they would receive in the five-year plan.

MURPH: Each community is generally paying for “its own” transit service: for example, Ann Arbor has the majority of the population and the majority of the tax base, and about 75% of the service increases will be in Ann Arbor. Outside of the three communities on the ballot, communities like Superior Township and Pittsfield Township will still have to pay for their own service with annual contracts – none of us voting for the millage will be paying for that service.

MARK: I would imagine that a group calling itself Better Transit Now might be prepared to offer a plan as to how better transit options might be achieved. To my knowledge, though, this is not the case… Is that correct?

MURPH: Aside from the general call for “more neighborhood-to-neighborhood service without going downtown” that we already discussed, no, I haven’t seen a plan or any specific recommendations.

MARK: I’m not sure how much overlap there is between the crew pushing Better Transit Now, and the crew that successfully fought the Ann Arbor Public Library millage last year, but it seems to me that the two battles may not be that dissimilar. And I’m curious to know, strategy-wise, how you think this campaign should be waged in light of what happened last year.

MURPH: AAATA has spent a lot of time working with the elected leaders of the communities involved to figure out what transit service is needed, wanted, and worth paying for, and all of this builds off of hundreds of community meetings over the past few years. As a result, they have a good five-year service plan, and the work of the “yes” campaign is pretty simple: make sure voters know about it and understand what’s in it. Later evening service, more weekend service, more frequent rush hour service, service to the Whittaker Road library, the township civic center and Kroger – these are all things that people have asked for, and now we have the chance to make them happen. From what I’ve seen of the “no” campaign, they’re working to spread uncertainty and distrust.

MARK: I don’t know. There’s not going to be much on the ballot on May 6 to bring out voters, is there? As that’s the case, I’m afraid that the anti-tax folks might have a bit of an advantage, regardless of how much ground work the AAATA and its supporters may have done… Sometimes being right and doing the groundwork isn’t enough, especially in today’s highly-politicized post-Tea Party world.

ALEXIS: The people in these communities want an improved transit system. A recent survey showed that 63% of the voters in the three communities either “probably would,” or “definitely would,” vote in favor of a new tax. Yes, turnout will be important; so it is the job of the More Buses “Yes” campaign to make sure that the voters are well informed, let them know what is in the transit improvement plan, how it will benefit the communities, and to diffuse any misinformation coming from the opposition.

MARK: If we could get Ypsi-centric for a moment, how will service here change, assuming that the millage is passed? You noted later hours, and increased routes to the library, etc, but are there other specifics that you can share?

MURPH: Some of the proposed changes involve taking things that TheRide was testing out and making them permanent: keeping the #4 Washtenaw Avenue route running at every 7-8 minutes during rush hour, instead of letting it go back to every 15 minutes – this change increased ridership on that route by over 40% in a single year – or the expansion of the NightRide shared-cab service to parts of Ypsi.

I mentioned the new route out to Whittaker Road, which will give people an option other than walking across the freeway interchange; the other big Ypsi route changes will happen in the eastern part of the township, splitting up the big looping routes that take an hour to go around into shorter, more direct spokes from the downtown Ypsi hub that get people where they’re going faster.

Otherwise, the changes are more frequent service and better hours on existing routes: making the #3 run until 11:15 PM instead of stopping at 6:00 PM, so that Ypsi residents can use it to get to evening classes at Washtenaw Community College, for example, and expanding Saturday service on many routes until 9:00 or 10:00 PM, making it a better option for people who work retail hours.

ALEXIS: I’d encourage everyone to read the proposed five-year plan, which includes specific details about the expanded services and new and redesigned routes for Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township.

MARK: I wasn’t asked for my ideas, but, assuming there’s going to be an ad campaign of some kind, I have an idea TV spot that I’d like to share. Picture this… A woman in an SUV rolls into a four-way stop, where she’s approached by a multi-racial bunch of hoodlums who politely explain to her that they’re going to need to take her car, seeing as how the AAATA bus millage wasn’t passed. The next thing we know, her car is pulling away, revealing the woman staring straight into the camera, at which point she says, “And the worst part is, there’s not even a bus to take me home.” I’m still trying to figure out the ending. I’m thinking, however, that we might win some religious voters over if we have Jesus drive up in a bus, smile, wink, and offer to take her back in time so that she can recast her vote. (Jesus can time travel, right? It’s been a while since I’ve gone to church.) It may be a little long for an ad. Maybe it’s more of an after school special kind of a thing. You get the point though.

MURPH: I don’t think the More Buses campaign is going to use that idea.



The routes shown in green are existing routes with proposed changes. The routes shown in blue are new proposed fixed routes. For the full key, as well as a larger version of the map, just click here.

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  1. Donald Harrison
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    The opposition is primarily the same group that opposed the AADL bond proposal. They’re pseudo “power to the people” liberals funded by conservative money, opposing taxes that would invest in infrastructure and provide better access and opportunities (eg., libraries, buses) to people with fewer means. Expect any and every argument against AATA and they’ll see what sticks. And maybe a spring blossoming of big red “No” yard signs.

    Fare thee well and godspeed More Buses campaign.

  2. naotakun
    Posted February 26, 2014 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this. This is a well-organized campaign and a great message. I ride the bus more than 10 rides most weeks, and my neighborhood bus will run later and on saturdays if this passes. Best wishes for this campaign, I hope it’s successful!

    But in regards to the opposition, it’s the exact same crew who fought the library, same doublespeak name, same playbook, same money. And AADL also had a 60% positive poll before the campaign. All they have to add is uncertainty and distrust. Their campaign against AADL used bogus numbers and talking points, shady local media buyers, and our neighborhood nextdoor site was full of stories of anti-library yard signs showing up next to obama signs uninvited and pro-library yard signs disappearing repeatedly.

    Watch out for all the above on this one. That crowd is feeling ascendant.

  3. Posted February 27, 2014 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    That was exactly what I was getting at with those questions. I can see that they’ve done their homework, and spent the time to build a coalition, but once the anti-tax folks get involved, the nature of the thing changes. And this, I suspect, will be especially true in an election like this one, where turnout will be low. I hope they’ve got plans to drive people (by bus) to the polls when the day comes. It’s one thing to have people offer their support. It’s another to actually get them out on election day.

  4. Bob Carlin
    Posted February 27, 2014 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I’m a transit supporter. It’s a vital service. But Ann Arbor has funded it’s transit authority since 1973 with a very generous perpetual millage, and today, we don’t have the quality of service for which we have paid for 40 years. Vivienne Armentrout has a useful description which lends balance to this debate. It’s on her blog at

  5. Lou Glorie
    Posted February 27, 2014 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    I would be happy to talk to any one of you about my objections and the basis for them. We are presently building our website and will soon have a facebook page where I expect exchanges among pro/opponents will be viewed.

    Since I’m both an ardent supporter of public transportation as well as a user of the bus service, I have been studying this plan and the workings that led up to it. I expect that people who are on the other side have done the same and we can argue (yes argue) the merits/demerits of the 5 yr plan and the millage request. I’ll post our facebook notification and website once they are up. Yours truly Lou

  6. tommy
    Posted February 27, 2014 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    Mr. Carlin – you are spot on with your comments. 40 years of feeding the beast and the current AATA is what we have? Now it is going to get significantly better in five years?

    I remember, well over a decade ago, when buses started running out to the Whittaker Road Library. I tried to use the service to get to the West side of Ann Arbor. Once.

    15 minute walk to get to the Library (no sidewalks – improved since), 15 minute wait at the library (wanted to make sure I got there on time as the next – and only other morning bus of the day – bus was an hour later) 15 minutes to the Yspi transfer station, 15 minutes waiting for a bus that would go to the A2 transfer center, 40 minutes on the bus (possibly a bit shorter if I planned an alternate route that would have me getting off and transfering to another route/bus but it was a cold day), 20 minute wait to catch the most direct bus to where I was going and finally another 15 minutes to my destination. 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to Ann Arbor from Ypsi. Another similar ride back. Unless that is being or has been significantly approved upon there is no way in hell that a township resident south of 94 would ever support such a plan let alone pay for it.

  7. Jeff Hayner
    Posted February 27, 2014 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    We have been funding the AATA/AAATA since 1973, how long does it take to build a decent service that serves the community that pays for it? How much of that has been spent in the last few years on non-critial projects? No mention of the millions spent on rail studies, the unwanted and defeated-at-the-ballot county-wide expansion, building a new transit center (don’t forget the $70K for “art”) , re-designing websites and hiring marketing staff to place huge full color inserts in the Observer (speaking of shady media buys), using taxpayer dollars intended for operating costs to stage an off-cycle election ($100K), etc. etc.

    It’s really something to see how quickly the pro-transit groups turn to name-calling when faced with even the slightest opposition to this millage which is being railroaded through – pun intended. I am sure we will see a rash of car-jackings perpetuated by those poor “multi-racials”- who you don’t want moving to Water Street, I see- when their handful of routes are not extended. Here’s an idea for the end of your commercial – they all get jobs, so the AAATA can slightly raise the ride cost, increasing the fare-box capture, and everyone learns to pay their fair share for transit. Of course, a small fare increase would only work if the number of riders was reported accurately, instead of being inflated by the transfer count. Yet another reason not to trust the AAATA with more of our money.

  8. John Galt
    Posted February 27, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    There were no buses in the Bible.

  9. Milford Pounce
    Posted February 27, 2014 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Narcissistic Baby Booming Fucks… Maybe that’s a generalization. I think, for a lot of A2, though, it’s appropriate. They think they got to where they are by hard work alone, and they’re tired of paying for welfare queens and lazy scumbags. “If people want to get from point A to point B, let them get a job and buy a fucking car.” They may say they just want a system that works better, but that’s a lie. They know they kind of system they want can’t be built. They just want to crash the whole thing to the ground.

  10. Mr. X
    Posted February 27, 2014 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Milford, you sound awfully familiar. Where have I met you before?

  11. Jennifer
    Posted February 27, 2014 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    @Jeff Hayner, I suspect you don’t actually ride the bus, cause if you did, you would know that service quality, quantity, and frequency is growing by leaps and bounds, as is ridership.

    I mean, I ride the 3 and the 4 between Ypsi and Ann Arbor, and the 4 in particular gets better every year. Used to be every 30 minutes, now about every 10 during rush hour, with two route variations that actually MAKE SENSE! And reading about the plans for a 3 bus running all evening: WOOHOO!

    Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t want to call you names, but if I am wrong in my surmise that you don’t actually ride the bus, can you tell us about your route and what’s wrong with it?

  12. Jennifer
    Posted February 27, 2014 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    @tommy, I’ve been riding the bus 3-5 times a week since 2003. It’s gotten a lot better over that time. Maybe before you vote, and before you join an anti-AATA campaign that’s going to make life worse (or less better) for people who DO know that route and rely on this service, you should try taking that bus ride that you took Once. Ten years ago. It may still be hard; it may be much easier now. Who knows? But at least you would before you speak.

    I get a whiff of talking points here. Who’s got on the tip of their tongue the date of the founding of AATA? The anti- folks. They talk of “we’ve been paying for 40 years and they STILL want money,” as if that money doesn’t get spent, every damn day, for gas and labor and the purchase and maintenance of a fleet. Last I checked, there weren’t no CNG powered sleek beauties running around in 1973. (Not that I rode AATA in ’73. I’m all for full disclosure of one’s reliance on the service when one is expressing an opinion. Not that I think you have to ride it yourself to recognize how important it is for everyone in the region. Trust me, you don’t want me driving in the snow, for starters.)

  13. Posted February 28, 2014 at 4:06 am | Permalink


  14. tommy
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Jennifer, no talking points. I support public transportation and understand the importance of having a good system in place for those who rely upon it. I ride a commuter van everyday with 10-12 others and talk up the benefits to everyone I come across. The system is okay for Ann Arbor and Ypsi proper, but trying to force the system to go out to Pittsfield, and Ypsi Township, Dexter, Saline, Chelsea, etc. doesn’t – realisically – have a chance of gaining any significant new ridership. I live in Saline – nobody is taking the bus and nobody will any time soon. I don’t think the Arctic Coliseum in Chelsea to Downtown Ann Arbor or the Canton to A2 route gets significant ridership on its two runs each way a day. As a matter of fact, it seems that these routes serve the UM more than they serve the public at large.

    The point I was initially trying to make was, trying to get a tax hike passed with support from the outlying areas is an incredibly tough sell. The current system isn’t great and adding some routes that few will ride is not a great plan. I realize shit cost money. I am not sure that adding 4.3 million a year to support this plan is wise.

    By the way, couldn’t take that route I referenced today as buses don’t go to the Whittaker Road Library any more and hasn’t in a while.

    I also have used the ride to the airport many times from the Briarwood area. Good program and good ridership (at least in the a.m. and early/mid-evening). Would rather have a pick up point at a Park and Ride, however, so I don’t have to pay to park at the hotel.

  15. Posted February 28, 2014 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    @tommy — the plans the millage would fund don’t try to “force” anything to Chelsea, Pittsfield, Dexter, etc. The communities outside the millage area would still be on the pay-as-you-go POSA contracts for any service they want.

    Meanwhile, in the map above, check out the “X720” line on I-94 and the “New Park and Ride” near the Whittaker Road exit. There’s no final schedule for this, but the plan calls for morning and evening commute express service from Whittaker Road to downtown A2 and UM’s central campus, about 20-30 mins each way. It might not be direct to your west-side-of-A2 destination — a transit system can’t serve every possible pair of destinations — but it would be a faster / more direct option than the local routes.

  16. EOS
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    The average value of homes in the township is significantly more than those located in the city. There are more than twice as many homes in the township. Paying the same millage rate , even when city residents pay an additional millage, means the township costs for bus service betweeen the two cities is more than the what the city pays. The city will get bus service every 10 minutes traversing its boundaries and has the bus station to centralize operations. The township will not have any buses within 3-4 miles of the majority of its population. All routes go to the transit center in the city, then to the transit center in AA, and then to a final destination, with waits at each stop. It’s inefficient and highly unlikely that anyone in the township could rely on a bus to get to and from a job wiith regular working hours. The benefit to the average taxpayer in the township is insufficient to justify the high costs. My guess is that the millage won’t pass in either Ypsi Township or Ann Arbor. AAATA is the only benificiary. They get to grow their operations and get funding for providing service to Ypsi city that exceeds the amount that the city residents can afford.

  17. tommy
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    appreciate the feedback Murph. Not me you have to sell the benefits on. I’m one of those – damn straight I’ll pay a fair share of my taxes for public schools, public parks, public libraries, public parks, public transportation … the public good. $70 to me a year is well worth it if it helps even a handful of people get to their jobs or wherever they want to go. I lived in the township for 17 years. They won’t vote to support. Sad, but true. Boils down to ‘me’ vs. ‘we’. Greater good doesn’t seem to register with the ‘me’ crowd.

  18. tommy
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    … and (swallow hard) EOS makes a good point. This seems to mainly benefits the few who are regular riders already. Public transport in the suburbs just doesn’t seem to work well – especially in the Motor City.

  19. EOS
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    It takes 40 minutes in a car to get from 94 and Whittaker to central campus during commute times. A bus that leaves the highway to pick up commuters will take longer.

  20. anonymous
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Why am I not surprised that you’re against this, EOS?

  21. EOS
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Because I have a consistent ideology.

  22. EOS
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    All the taxpayers living between Textile and Bemis, Munger and Rawsonville – get absolutely nothing for their money. And the 95% who prefer to drive their cars get no benefit either.

  23. Elf
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Generally speaking, EOS, do you see buses as being part of a larger move toward socialism? Please answer honestly.

  24. EOS
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Why should the Township pay to bring commuters to the Cities? The road congestion and parking problems will lead new business and industry to the Township, where the increase in tax base will benefit us directly and also benefit the community at large.

  25. EOS
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink


    To a certain extent, yes. A personal vehicle gives a person freedom of choice over destinations and times. Travel isn’t limited to existing routes. A car allows you the freedom to go wherever you want whenever you want. Less government – more individual freedom.

  26. Elf
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m sure you can appreciate that it’s difficult to enter into a conversation in good faith about mass transit who believes that buses are a socialist plot.

  27. EOS
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    If you can’t acknowledge that mass transit is more restrictive than a personal vehicle then we have no common ground to converse. Sorry, it wasn’t my intention to make it too difficult for you.

  28. Dan
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    There is absolutely no way this passes in the Township. It provides virtually zero benefit. People living close to the “M” Route didnt move to south Ypsi Twp with a need for public transportation.

    I personally dont think buses have anything to do with socialism, but more with people that are either making a personal choice to not own a car or drive it as little as possible, or people that cant afford a car. Both of those stances are at complete odds with the south portion of Ypsi Township.

  29. Pot Stirrer
    Posted February 28, 2014 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Once you get the bus route infrastructure in the Township you’ll be able to get in on the public housing gravy train.

  30. Posted February 28, 2014 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    Buses create a culture of dependence.

  31. Posted March 1, 2014 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    The anti folks sure got on this quickly. I swear to God there could be a millage to have a party to celebrate the cure for breast cancer and some people would immediately start a group called “Obscure the Cure! Breast Cancer Rocks!” and put up big signs with red Xs through them.

  32. Posted March 1, 2014 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    “If you can’t acknowledge that mass transit is more restrictive than a personal vehicle then we have no common ground to converse. ”

    This isn’t necessarily true. I can think of a lot of places and contexts where public transportation is (or would be) far less restrictive than a personal vehicle.

  33. Posted March 4, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    If you can’t acknowledge that mass transit is more restrictive than a personal vehicle then we have no common ground to converse.

    Well, that affirms the well-known fact that you and I don’t have much common ground. Personally, I find that a transportation system that requires me to buy a car, pay for car insurance and registration, shell out for gas and repairs, and dedicate a significant portion of my time to dodging potholes to be much more “restrictive” than one which allows me to hop on a vehicle and read, answer emails, relax, etc, for a couple of bucks per trip.

    A personal vehicle that “allows” me the “freedom” to choose whether to go sit in traffic now or five minutes from now is an exceptionally superficial form of liberation.

  34. Glen S.
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m looking forward to voting for this on May 6.

    Additional routes, more frequent service, and expanded service hours will benefit many people in our community — including seniors, the disabled, and those who can’t afford a private automobile, or simply don’t want the hassle. It will also reduce pollution, congestion, and wear-and-tear on our already battered roads.

    What’s more, as Ann Arbor (and especially the U-M and the U-M Health System) continue to be the focus of job growth in our region — faster and more frequent service will help to make Ypsilanti an even more attractive destination for those seeking affordable housing within reasonable commuting distance.

    “Win. Win.” In my book.

  35. EOS
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    My job options aren’t limited to only those businesses on a bus line. My entertainment choices don’t have to end in time to catch the last bus. I can stop at the grocer on my way home from work and load a trunkful of food to be unloaded at my doorstep when I get home. I always get a seat in my personal vehicle and choose the music or podcast I listen to. I’m not forced to share a seat with a person who may be infested with fleas or bedbugs or infected with the “flu”. I can drive to a Tiger game at Comerica or to Chicago for the weekend. I can choose to drive in a rural setting or go to a lake after work. I enjoy driving.

  36. Posted March 4, 2014 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    EOS translated:

    *I’m* not yet old, so my eyesight and reflexes have not diminished to the point that I can no longer safely drive … so what’s the big deal?

    *I’m* not disabled, so it is very easy for me to get into/out of and operate my personal automobile … so why is public transit *my* problem?

    *I’m* not poor, which means I have the means to afford a car, and pay for insurance, gas and repairs … so why should *I* have to pay more to help *other* people?

    *I’m* not “infested” with fleas, or bedbugs, or the “flu” … so why should …

    (oh, nevermind … )

  37. Posted March 4, 2014 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I find automobile ownership incredibly onerous. I’m saddled with high expenses, some of which can fluctuate violently over time. I take risks every time I drive. I’m constrained by the availability of parking in cities. And, unfortunately, Michigan’s cities and roads are too poorly planned to allow convenience to justify these expenses.

    I have considered moving to another place with a proper public transportation system (like Japan) simply because I find automobiles to be an incredible inconvenience.

  38. EOS
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Japan has a wonderful subway system. They employ “packers” whose job it is to shove an extra dozen or two people into a subway car when it is already full. Commutes are so onerous and time consuming that many business men rent a “coffin-size” sleeping berth near their job and only go home on the weekend. Most Americans consider that more inconvenient than a personal automobile. But you go for it Peter. Live the dream.

  39. Posted March 5, 2014 at 5:27 am | Permalink

    “Japan has a wonderful subway system. They employ “packers” whose job it is to shove an extra dozen or two people into a subway car when it is already full. Commutes are so onerous and time consuming that many business men rent a “coffin-size” sleeping berth near their job and only go home on the weekend. Most Americans consider that more inconvenient than a personal automobile. But you go for it Peter. Live the dream.”

    Have you ever lived in Japan?

    I have.

  40. EOS
    Posted March 5, 2014 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Visited twice. Wouldn’t want to live there.

  41. Posted March 5, 2014 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    “Visiting” and “living” are two very different things.

    A car is a total liability in Japan, whereas public transport is incredibly convenient. I can hop on a train at any time of day and get anywhere I need to be. As for the capsule hotels, they are handy. After a night of drinking, no one needs to be driving anyway. As in the States, though, you can always call a cab if need be.

  42. Buses
    Posted March 14, 2014 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    All four candidates for Mayor of Ann Arbor: Sabra Briere, Stephen Kunselman, Sally Hart Petersen and Christopher Taylor support the More Buses campaign.

  43. Buses
    Posted April 8, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Based on last night’s debate that the anti-millage group has changed direction. They’re no long saying that they want routes that better serve the tax payers of Ann Arbor. They’re now saying that they like the plan, but don’t want to pay for it. They’re saying that the AAATA budget includes millions of dollars in pork which could be used to increase routes, etc.

    Here’s the relevant part for today’s Ann Arbor News (

    Former AAATA board member and treasurer Ted Annis joined local resident and activist LuAnn Bullington in speaking against the proposal. The opponents of the new millage — who have named their campaign “better transit now” — emphasized throughout the evening that they are in favor of “more buses, more places, more often,” they just don’t agree with the funding scheme.

    “Give it to us, but don’t tax us for it,” Annis said.

    He repeated multiple times during the forum that he believed that there was more than enough “pork” in the AAATA budget that could be trimmed to pay for the increases in services that were being promoted.

    Annis and Bullington claimed that the AAATA has 52 “managers,” of whom he said at least 30 could be laid off or fired.

    “Including fringe benefits it would lead to annual savings of more than $3 million,” he said. “There are so many redundancies in the leadership structure that are just unnecessary.”

    Gainsley said that many of those counted as “managers” by the millage’s opponents were simply non-union employees.

  44. Posted May 6, 2014 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    I posted this elsewhere, but I figured I should put it here as well.

    As the folks at the Ecology Center are declaring victory, I guess it’s safe to celebrate… Thanks to all of you who played a part in making this happen. Our community is better for it.

4 Trackbacks

  1. By Ypsi Immigration Interview: Megan Maurer on March 17, 2014 at 8:40 am

    […] MARK: It’s kind of an aside, but, as you mention buses, I’m curious what you think of the local debate we’ve been having lately concerning expanded bus service. […]

  2. […] how, a few weeks ago, I told you about the local campaign to increase public transportation options by 44% in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor? Well, now that we’re just a a month away from the May 6 vote, things are beginning to […]

  3. […] that I’d check it out, and see if maybe they’d figured out a way, in the time since we last discussed this, to better articulate their concerns… As you’ll recall, they started out saying they […]

  4. By Wreak havoc in Annarbour. Vote more buses. on May 6, 2014 at 8:24 am

    […] know I’m joking, right? As we’ve discussed in the past, the plan to expand AAATA service is good for everyone in the region. I’m just still a little miffed at the suggestion, made by […]

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