Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Ypsilanti City Manager Proposes Steep Cuts

16. February 2006 • Dale Winling
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Ed Koryzno, city manager for Ypsilanti, is proposing $1.6 million in city budget cuts over the next three years to preempt projected deficits, the Ann Arbor News reported today. Most controversial among the cuts are allocations to the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) to fund seven routes serving Ypsilanti.

Ypsilanti pays the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority about $170,500 a year to cover a portion of the costs to operate seven bus routes in the city. In the first round of a three-year cost-cutting plan before the City Council, that payment would drop by half and the city might lose the Huron Street and Packard Road bus routes. By 2009, the city could lose all of its bus routes.

“It’s pretty ugly,’’ said Council Member John Gawlas, D-2nd Ward. “Those are not attractive options.’’

In addition to AATA cuts, numerous staff positions would be eliminated, including the assistant city manager, as well as allocations to an Ypsilanti museum and the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

A map of AATA routes in Ypsilanti is available at the AATA Web site. A petition to protest the AATA cuts is provided by Ypsidixit.

Recent stories on AATA available here, and here.



  1. Those bastards. As if Ypsi bus service wasn’t already garbage. Only one route even connects Ypsi to Ann Arbor on Sunday.

    I will move back to Ann Arbor. If Ypsi won’t provide busses, then Ypsi is not worth living in.


       —Joe    Feb. 17 '06 - 09:37AM    #
  2. Joe’s hit the problem on the head – bus service to Ann Arbor is one of the things keeping Ypsilantians-of-choice in Ypsi. This is not only bad for Ypsi’s transit-bound, who don’t have a choice, but for Ypsi’s chances of continuing to attract residents. East-Cross.com has an account of last night’s public meeting to discuss the budget.


       —TPM    Feb. 17 '06 - 01:49PM    #
  3. TPM –
    No way! People don’t move to Ypsi because of bus service to Ann Arbor. However, Ann Arbor does appreciate the subsidy from the city of Ypsi. The 2 bus lines from Ypsi are about the only buses in the Ann Arbor system that have significant numbers of riders. Most of the other buses in the system ride around empty for most of the day.

    Perhaps the most alarming news concerning the city budget problems is that Ypsi city officials think they can get the surrounding townships to bail them out. Any township would have to be crazy to form an economic alliance with the city. They have proven that they can’t manage their affairs, consistantly spend more than they can afford, and think the township will hire their police department to protect them. The Ypsi city spends more to police 3.5 square miles than Ypsi township pays to police about ten times the area. I will work to recall any township official who endangers our finances by linking up with the soon to be bankrupt city. They (the city) need to cut expenses. Maybe they should realize that they can’t afford to pay the city manager 6 figures, or pay part-time council members, or spend a quarter million per year on recycling, or continue to allow the 3 business districts to separate their taxes from the general fund or continue to employ former state representatives as lobbyists.
    The city made a huge mistake when it entered the speculative real estate market with the Waters Street project. They have encumbered future tax revenue for a residential project that needs to be considerably cut back due to the environmental contamination at the site. And where’s the accountability. They blame the State and Prop A even though their revenues have always risen faster than inflation.


       —Karen Luck    Feb. 17 '06 - 02:18PM    #
  4. Uh, health care costs?


       —Dale    Feb. 17 '06 - 03:54PM    #
  5. Karen – you’re wrong; I personally have been househunting in Ypsilanti, and bus service to Ann Arbor has been a big draw for me. Buying in Ypsi is definitely cheaper than continuing to rent in Ann Arbor, assuming that transit service exists to keep transportation costs low. I’ve known a number of other UM staff members as well who have said, “I was tired of paying rent in Ann Arbor, so I bought in Ypsi and ride the bus.” It’s definitely a factor in some people’s decision.

    I’m not saying Ypsi doesn’t need an overhaul – but all of Michigan does. And, because I can’t resist making the dig, maybe if Ypsi weren’t subsidizing the Townships’ Sheriff patrols, we might be able to make a more honest comparison of the costs of policing?


       —TPM    Feb. 17 '06 - 04:07PM    #
  6. TPM,

    I’m just trying to help you. Look at the tax rate in Ypsi city compared to other communities surrounding Ann Arbor. You can buy twice the house for half the taxes in a number of other communities and still ride a bus into Ann Arbor to get to the University. In addition, the other communities can afford ammenities that are being cut in Ypsilanti and aren’t talking about an income tax. Look at MEAP test scores and the school districts.

    The city residents aren’t subsidizing the townships’ Sheriff patrols – they are subsudizing the county budget. The real cost of Sheriffs does not include building and staffing a new giant jail. The county would like city residents to blame the townships, but it’s a diversionary tactic. Did you see yesterday’s Ann Arbor News? Judge Collins thinks the county has millions of dollars revenue in excess of expenditures. Maybe we’ll find out the truth in the lawsuit, but I doubt it.


       —Karen Luck    Feb. 17 '06 - 04:23PM    #
  7. TPM…
    While i agree with your views that the current revenue-sharing arrangements favor the out-county areas over the established cities…your assessment of how the AATA operates is a little off.

    Ypsi does not ‘subsidize’ Ann Arbor service.
    With the way operating funds are currently structured, Ypsi purchases the service that it deems necessary.
    For almost every one of the routes that services Ypsi, their monies are combined with monies from Ypsi Twp., Pittsfield Twp., and Ann Arbor city to create said service.
    What I’m trying to say is that if one takes away the Ypsi money for a route, a route will basically have to turn around at the Ypsi border (because there is no money to continue the Ypsi connection). The Ann Arbor portion of the route would probably still continue to run because AA has an advantage…they have a dedicated transit property millage (and land value in AA is still doing fairly well).
    That also accounts for the reason why some of the routes don’t run to Ypsi on the weekends.

    Also, ridership has never been higher on the AATA system. There are now consistent crush loads on several routes during peak hours and most other routes are doing very well.
    Buses often appear to be less than full during the off-peak hours, but that’s to be expected. The system (like every other transit system) is designed to do its best to handle the load at peak hours (just like a road system).
    I doubt that anybody would say that Washtenaw Ave. needs to be reduced to 2 lanes because it isn’t running at, above, or near full capacity at 3am.

    In my view, a serious discussion of how local governmental units are funded (and how they operate) must take place if there is ever going to be productive resolution of these matters.

    I am very heartened to see that people aren’t letting these issues slip out of slight unchallenged (as was the case several years ago).
    Nice job (to all of you) at getting the word out.


       —kand    Feb. 17 '06 - 04:54PM    #
  8. kand –
    I agree that the routes running to Ypsi wouldn’t stop – I’m betting, though, that without service to Ypsi, ridership on those lines would drop enough that, for example, running the #5 every 15 minutes wouldn’t be so pressing a concern within A2. I think within-A2 riders on the Ypsi serving lines benefit simply because the Ypsi portion of ridership keeps those routes at high priority within the A2 part of the system.


       —TPM    Feb. 17 '06 - 06:07PM    #
  9. AATA does a good job of obtaining Federal grants for their bus system. These grants are due, in large part, to the numbers of persons using the bus each day. In this way, Ypsi riders subsidize AATA. Also, the #4 and #5 have higher ridership than most other routes in the AATA system. Since everybody pays the same fare, the more crowded routes “subsidize” those that are less frequently used.

    These riders in Ypsilanti, for the most part, don’t need the huge expensive system that AATA provides. A couple routes that circle the city would be adequate, with one route connecting to AATA at Arborland, at a much reduced cost, is all that’s essential. Maybe Ann Arbor can afford top of the line buses that talk with computerized voices and with electronic displays, but with the other cuts in the budget that Ypsi is considering, they could easily provide a cheaper mass transit separate from AA.


       —Karen Luck    Feb. 17 '06 - 06:36PM    #
  10. Karen—you’re kidding, right? Have you ever ridden the #6? (The #6 also goes to Ypsi.) Actually the #7 is usually pretty busy, too, at least during peak hours. (Those two are also Briarwood routes.)

    If Ypsi can afford its own bus system, fine. I’d be willing to believe there’s a more efficient way to do it. But considering all the other problems you mentioned that Ypsi faces, how much confidence should we have that they could pull it off? I’d like to think they could, but obviously there’s some room for doubt.


       —Young Urban Amateur    Feb. 17 '06 - 07:58PM    #
  11. i know what karen is getting it…

    the problem is caused because the bus system is run by COMMUNISTS!!!

    better red than fred,
    ari p.


       —Ari P.    Feb. 17 '06 - 09:13PM    #
  12. In today’s AA News, Ypsilanti is asking for an income tax because of its concave budget situation.

    If we were talking about Ann Arbor, then I would feel free to ignore an alleged budget “crisis” because every spring the City claims a crisis and then – surprise! – it doesn’t materialize after all.

    But in Ypsilanti, I think that without some kind of income tax, the City is likely to go bankrupt.


       —David Cahill    Feb. 17 '06 - 09:52PM    #
  13. If people just viewed cars as the plague that they are, we could all be riding busses and bicycles and easily afford to pay for vast improvements in bus service.

    An academic text about this was written by Ivan Illich.


       —Adam de Angeli    Feb. 20 '06 - 01:23AM    #
  14. Before I reference Karen’s posts to point out what I think are incorrect statements and misleading arguments, I would like to say that I appreciate having a township perspective on Arbor Updates. While I don’t usually agree with Karen, I do find that her comments help define the issues.

    That said,
    Everybody does not pay the same fare. K-12 students pay half, Seniors pay a quarter of the regular fare, and UM students and go!pass holders ride for free. The two programs that provide free bus trips are likely big contributors to the high ridership on Ypsi routes. Note that both are provided by Ann Arbor institutions, not the city of Ypsi. http://www.theride.org/fares.asp provides a full description of the fare break down.

    There is a misuse of subsidy, which I’ve also transgressed in referring to parking. According to wikipedia:
    “In economics, a subsidy is generally a monetary grant given by government to lower the price faced by producers or consumers of a good, generally because they are considered to be in the public interest. Sometimes, the term subsidy may also refer to assistance granted by others, such as individuals or non-government institutions, although this is more usually described as charity.”

    According to http://www.theride.org/pdf/FundingPerspective.pdf, the funding provided from the state is currently 33% of operating costs. I think that is a subsidy.

    Also, federal capital pays for 80% of the cost of new buses, while the state has been paying the other 20%. I consider this also to be a subsidy. (the fact that this money cannot be used to maintain the current fleet is another issue for another time)

    The dedicated transit millage that kand refers to above is a subsidy.

    A particular bus route being popular does not constitute a subsidy from the destination’s city government. Further, the people who ride that route are not “subsidizing” other routes. They are simply paying the appropriate fare for the service.

    It is my understanding that while AATA is working to increase choice riders by improvements in routes and services (“buses that talk with computerized voices and with electronic displays”), a central mission remains to provide transit for those who cannot get around on their own. Thus, even routes that don’t make as much money as the Ypsi commuter routes, are central to the mission of the AATA and will likely continue to run, despite the fact that they do not pay for themselves.

    I would challenge Karen or anyone else to show figures that back up the statement that Ypsi could provide similar service at a lower cost by running their own bus line.


       —Scott TenBrink    Feb. 20 '06 - 04:08AM    #
  15. “Ypsilanti pays the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority about $170,500 a year to cover a portion of the costs to operate seven bus routes in the city. ” This lowers the price that would otherwise be paid by bus riders because it is deemed to be in the public interest. – A SUBSIDY.

    I am not in support of having the Ypsilanti city government start their own bus service. I realize that my previous statements would lead someone to that conclusion – my mistake.

    A private enterprise could fill the void if AATA pulls out of Ypsi and provide rides to locations that would connect to the bus service in Ann Arbor, at no cost to taxpayers who don’t use mass transit. And no, I don’t believe a private business would provide a similar level of service as AATA. It isn’t profitable to do so without federal, state, and local SUBSIDIES. Maybe vans, wagons or small busses that would share the ride with other persons to keep costs low. Perhaps the existing cab companies could quickly fill the gap and make a profit doing so, and the city could save $170,000 a year.


       —Karen Luck    Feb. 20 '06 - 02:22PM    #
  16. There’s no point in the city saving $170,000 a year if the least fortunate citizens can’t pay for the cabs.

    The point of Ypsilanti’s paying for such a service is (a) to redistribute and provide service for people who couldn’t pay for the full cost themselves—an equity goal. That is amplified by (b) making the system predictable and reliable.

    The city would be fools to hope for a proportional taxi service. The streets would be clogged, and would require significantly more expenditures for upkeep and expansion. In lashing out at the poor, Ypsilanti would also shoot the middle class in the foot.


       —Dale    Feb. 20 '06 - 02:45PM    #
  17. I’ve seen it said on this site before that transit funding is not just of benefit to the people who ride the bus, but of benefit to those who drive, as well. As Dale says, even if we imagine that everybody could afford to get around by private car in the absence of the bus, we’re increasing congestion for everybody. It’s reasonable for drivers to pay some amount for transit service in order to let other people get off the road and out of their way, and reasonable for everybody to pay some amount for transit service to reduce air and water pollution.


       —TPM    Feb. 20 '06 - 03:25PM    #
  18. Does anyone else see the notion of cutting AATA service to Ypsi as fundamentally classist?


       —dsd    Feb. 21 '06 - 04:20PM    #
  19. What actually happens when a city goes bankrupt?


       —Alexander Merz    Feb. 21 '06 - 06:11PM    #
  20. dsd – you could argue that cutting transit service is almost always classist, since you’re hurting most the people with the least means.

    But “classist” implies placing blame somewhere. It’s the City of Ypsi that would be cutting transit service to Ypsi, if they reduce their payment to AATA without finding an alternate means of funding that service, but look at what their alternatives are: would cutting police or fire service be any less classist, since low-income neighborhoods tend to be victimized more by criminals, and have poorer housing stock?

    I suppose you could make a case that it’s classist on the part of the high income new-growth areas, who have set up the State’s local funding system to benefit them at the cost of older, poorer communities, but, well, I’ll leave that argument for you to make.


       —TPM    Feb. 21 '06 - 09:06PM    #
  21. I think when a city goes bankrupt the same basic scheme is put into place as when a large private enterprise goes bankrupt, but wants to continue operating.

    A neutral administrator is put in place and takes over running the show while debts are shed or refinanced in an orderly way.


       —David Cahill    Feb. 22 '06 - 12:53AM    #
  22. I believe that institutionalized discrimination in the form of classism plays a heavy role in the structure of transportation systems of SE Michigan (along with racism, since race and class are so intricately intertwined in this area).

    I highly doubt that fire and police service in Ypsi are “two-tiered” in the same manner as the transportation systems of SE Michigan.

    When you cut police and fire service, it tends to affect people more equally across class boundaries. Middle class people tend to rely on police and fire protection as much as poorer people do.

    Michigan’s overall transportation budget (federal and state monies combined) is heavily skewed toward the provision of road networks (with expressways taking a good portion of those monies).

    Road networks primarily service individuals with access to private transportation. Yes public transport uses roads, but the amount of public transport fixed route mileage (where the vast majority of the ridership lies) is miniscule in comparison to the overall mileage of the road network.

    Access to private transportation (be it personally-owned vechicles, taxis, shuttles, etc.) is heavily correlated with income. If you don’t believe me, ask a transit system what income levels most of their transit-depandant people fall into.

    We have a situation in SE Michigan (and in Ann Arbor) where middle and upper-class people are primarily using one type of transportation system
    (expressways and the like), while public transport systems are often dominated by lower-classes of people (the MRide program is altering this picture for AATA).

    Funding is not equally distributed among these two systems. So when you cut public transport in a transportation system that heavily invests in networks for private vehicles, you tend to disproportionately affect people of lower-income status.

    When a set of policies tends to favor one group of people at the expense of others, it is said to be discriminatory. In this case it brreaks out along class lines.


       —kand    Feb. 23 '06 - 05:09AM    #
  23. The city is going bankrupt. Government can’t be everything for all people. Fire and police protection is not easily accomplished through individual efforts and for that reason individuals pool their resources to buy these services collectively. The same reasoning applies to our armed forces at the federal level.

    However, providing a means of transportation for all individuals to all locations at all times is most easily accomplished by the individuals themselves.

    People who work hard to provide for their own needs will always have an advantage over those who wait for the benevolence of government to provide for them. It’s not discriminatory as much as it is the logical result of enjoying the fruits of one’s labor and the freedom to choose.

    Discrimination naturally follows freedom of choice. The object not chosen is “discriminated” against. Only if society eliminated all possibilities of choice would we eliminate all possibilities of discrimination. I’d rather be free.


       —Karen Luck    Feb. 23 '06 - 02:31PM    #
  24. Yes, the self-made men and women of Washtenaw County, with their rugged, individualistic spirits, have much to teach the shiftless service workers of Ypsilanti.


       —Dale    Feb. 23 '06 - 03:06PM    #
  25. Karen – wow, that’s one of the more Orwellian statements I’ve heard in a long time. Discrimination = Freedom. Welcome to Oceana!


       —John Q.    Feb. 23 '06 - 05:50PM    #
  26. Like this one time I got sick of waiting for the government to build a road – so I just built my own! You just have to take the initiative.


       —ann arbor is overrated    Feb. 23 '06 - 06:13PM    #
  27. I’m sorry karen, but one of the most fundamental descriptions of institutionalized discrimination that i’ve been exposed to goes something like this: ‘if we as a society were to remove all of the conscious and blatant personal choices of discrimination, and we still were left with processes (govermental, social, economic, etc.) that discriminated against people – those processes are said to be institutionalized discrimination’.

    In our particular case i doubt that anybody in Ypsi is saying “i hate poor people, so let’s f___ them over by taking away the bus service which helps them run their lives”. However, if bus service is eliminated we could end up with a situation which does exactly that.

    Nobody directly calls for this kind of discrimination to happen, it just kind of does. Therein lies the problem…it doesn’t matter if the decisions controlling this process are consciously classist/racist or not. The end result for the poor people is going to be almost exactly the same (and that’s what makes it discrimination).

    Transportation (mobility, etc.) for the masses has never been an “efficient good”. It doesn’t distribute efficiently according to free (if there really is such a thing) market principles. Not all individuals can build networks for themselves, and not all individuals have equal access to existing networks (no matter how hard they work).
    This has been known for quite awhile now, hence the creation of mass trasportation systems that have been either regulated or run directly by various levels of governments. You’ve seen what happened to the passenger rail system in this country when the “free” market was given control.

    Discrimination is not a natural byproduct of a society that offers its people choices in decisionmaking. Processes can be set up to give people choice, yet provide equality among options and users. There are ways to help protect against discrimination in transportation matters, but SE Michigan does not offer many of those options at this point.


       —kand    Feb. 23 '06 - 07:44PM    #
  28. AAiO probably gave the wise-assest answer possible, but the point is sound. Karen, just as we act in a joint fashion to procure the police service that we all individually desire, so we act in a joint fashion to procure the transportation system that we all individually desire. Cars are not, as you argue, an individually provided means of transportation. MDOT is planning half a billion dollars in work just in the “University” region (7 counties in south-central Michigan) in the next 5 years. That’s ROAD work. Driving only looks like an individual mode of transportation because you’re in a metal box by yourself, but it’s as socially provided as mass transit. Want individual , unsubsidized transportation? Walk. And stay off the sidewalks.


       —TPM    Feb. 23 '06 - 09:42PM    #
  29. Karen sounds like she supports the starve the beast mentality of the majority in our esteemed legislature. “You Ypsi folks pull yourselves up there by your bootstraps!”


       —eileenie    Feb. 23 '06 - 10:10PM    #
  30. eileenie, i agree, moreover “pull US up by YOUR bootstraps.”

    TPM, i agree—karen seems to have a blind spot when it comes to the true costs of transportation and how those costs are spread around.


       —peter honeyman    Feb. 24 '06 - 02:06AM    #
  31. Maybe Karen is counting on MSA airBus to handle Ypsilanti (heh).


       —David Boyle    Feb. 24 '06 - 02:14AM    #
  32. See, e.g., ypsi~dixit ,

    “Ypsi City Council Meeting Tues, April 18, 7:30 p.m.

    At the Senior Center at 1017 Congress, in Recreation Park. The last chance to speak you® piece before the Council makes its decision ‘by the end of April.’ Show up and let your voice be heard. I’ll be presenting our petition to Council.”


       —David Boyle (Ypsi City Council meeting on AATA cuts TONIGHT)    Apr. 18 '06 - 02:43PM    #
  33. I think Karen is a Ypsi township Republican (who thinks she is democrat). True Democrats are more compassionate, more caring, more willing to share with others (Ypsi city?), especially those trying to recover. But, maybe this is endemic of a larger issue…

    Seems to be lots of venom from the township towards the city. I hear almost no venom from the city towards the township. Must be a reason for this…


       —DS    May. 5 '06 - 03:33AM    #