Last night the Ann Arbor Transit Authority held one of a series of public meetings to discuss its long-term vision for transit countywide.
The focus of the meeting, held at the Ann Arbor District Library with about 15 people in attendance, was to get community input on the AATA Transit Master Plan, a 30-year plan to address transportation issues in the county.
The AATA is currently considering three different plans it could implement, according to officials at the meeting. The three plans under consideration are the Lifeline Plus Scenario, the Accessible County Scenario and the Smart Growth Scenario. Each of the plans includes improvements to buses, integrated ticketing, travel planning programs and door-to-door service for seniors as well as for people with disabilities.
The AATA’s decision of which plan to adopt is expected to be made by March or April, according to Mary Stasiak, AATA’s manager of community relations. The AATA Board of Directors will decide between the three plans based on the community feedback received at this and forthcoming public meetings, Stasiak said.
Each of the three plans has a different set of features.
The Lifeline Plus Scenario — projected to cost $48 million — features improvements in the urban bus network, Ann Arbor bus stops and the creation of countywide transit hubs in Chelsea and Dexter, Mich.
The Accessible County Scenario, estimated to cost $51 million, includes all the same features as the Lifeline Plus, but adds bus circulation in Dexter and Saline, Mich., as well as countywide transit hubs in three more Washtenaw County cities — Manchester, Milan and Whitmore Lake. It also includes five countywide express services between the transit hubs.
The third plan, the Smart Growth Scenario, includes everything in the other two plans, and will add regional rail services and High Capacity Transit services including an Ann Arbor connection to the Detroit Metro Airport. At an estimated $465 million, the Smart Growth Scenario is the most costly plan.
At last night’s meeting, some of the community contributors seemed skeptical of the Smart Growth Scenario because of its complexity.
Rackham student Prashanth Gururaja attended the meeting and expressed his reserved support for the Smart Growth Scenario.
“I am partial to the Smart Growth plan,” Gururaja said. “It seems like there is a sticker shock, but if there’s a cohesive payment plan I think it will work.”
Ann Arbor resident Dan Corwin, who attended the meeting, said he prefers the Lifeline Plus Scenario but would like to see other changes about the busing system added to the plan.
“I think the cheapest one is best, though I see the benefit of a railway,” Corwin said. “What I’d really like to see is increased nighttime and weekend routes.”
Yuri Popov, a physics lecturer at the University, said he favors the Lifeline Plus with three additional changes that he believes should be implemented immediately. He said he thinks the AATA should add weekend routes, an airport shuttle and transportation to Detroit.
“It seems kind of obvious.” Popov said. “The airport is half hour away, and there are no airport buses. Detroit is 40 miles away and there is no way to get to Detroit.”