After hours of deliberation, the Ann Arbor City Council approved a four-party mass transit agreement in a seven-to-four vote yesterday.

The agreement — a pact between Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Washtenaw County and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority to provide mass transit for the next 30 years — establishes that the city will adhere to City Act 195, an ordinance that calls for a countywide mass transit system as opposed to city-managed transportation.

While the plan was passed, the finances of the system were not officially ratified. Members of the plan’s financial task force in attendance issued a statement in which they said though they could not presently submit a conclusive agreement, council should still pass the agreement.

There was opposition to the agreement as some councilmembers expressed discontent to the framework of the transit plan.

Councilmember Stephen Kunselman (D–Ward 3), who voted no on the transit agreement last night, said he wanted to continue exploring different options for transportation in the city.

Councilmember Jane Lumm (I–Ward 2) echoed Kunselman’s sentiments, and said she was concerned with the binding nature of the agreement.

“It is not a question of yes or no but how to accomplish it and at what pace,” Lumm said.

Other members, including Councilmember Christopher Taylor (D–Ward 3), countered these arguments and said that the plan is not binding, only a first step in the direction toward an effective mass transit system.

“The issue tonight is that the four-party agreement doesn’t cost us anything,” Taylor said. “It only puts out the idea that we want a mass transit system in Ann Arbor.”

The meeting extensively addressed amendments to the plan, including clarifying the text of the document to give more power to Ann Arbor in the party agreement, which was largely shot down.

Taylor and councilmember Marcia Higgins (D–Ward 4) said equal jurisdiction is crucial for ensuring that all the parties stay involved in the transit plan.

At the start of the meeting, five residents spoke in agreement with the four-party agreement, urging Council to support it.

Ann Arbor resident Elizabeth Donoghue Colzin spoke about the importance of broadening transit throughout the region, despite the possibility that tax rates could increase.

“I would encourage you in your efforts to move this forward,” Colzin said. “If this were to be added to the millage, I would vote for it. I would like to pay for transportation in this county and I hope that this four-way agreement would move forward.”

Carolyn Grawi, an Ann Arbor resident and a representative of the Ann Arbor Chamber of Commerce, said she wanted the agreement to pass because it would assist the disabled and elderly. She mentioned a survey commissioned by the AATA in which 86 percent of the respondents said there is a need for door-to-door service.

“We need to look at how (residents), as the puzzle piece in the center of the county, the key part to that region, are going to figure out the element of what needs to take place,” Grawi said.

Ann Arbor attorney Christine Green spoke on behalf of the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, saying that she was in favor of the four-party agreement for its potential to create jobs and foster environmental efforts in the community.

“Bus transportation is a healthier, more active mode of transportation. It create jobs and helps local businesses. (It) revitalizes the city,” Green said.

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje said he approved of the project because of the widespread support of the residents and the aforementioned community programs.

“Public transit and expanding public transit is something we are going to need if we are going to continue on that path, and I know its easy for us to see why two organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the Conservation Voters would come together at the same meeting and endorse this proposal,” Hieftje said.

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