Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News


Transportation funding in the hands of lame ducks

Posted by Murph on 16. December 2008

Everyone from getDowntown to the Grand Rapids Press Editorial Board to the Michigan Municipal League are urging action on a package of bills before Michigan’s lame duck legislature. The bills would provide for an increase in State transportation funding, which could in turn leverage increased Federal funding. (Without the bills, we will apparently see a decrease in Federal funding.) One such call to action is as follows:

A three-year effort to increase transportation investment in Michigan all comes down to a single day— this Thursday, the final day of debate for the lame duck session.

Policymakers are considering a transportation investment plan that would provide an additional investment of $1.5 billion per year. In short, the legislation would get rid of the state’s per gallon gas and diesel tax and replace them with a percentage tax based on the wholesale price of fuel. The funding package would also adjust vehicle registration fees and close various loopholes. (The bill numbers are House Bills 4577, 6749, 6750 and 6752.)

Your help is needed!

Legislators often tell us that they never hear from constituents regarding this issue. This is your chance. We strongly urge you and all your employees to call your legislators beginning today through Thursday and ask for their support for the transportation investment plan. Go to: to find your representative and senator.) Tell them how important jobs and the economy are to our state.

Ask to speak to your elected official directly. If they are not available or you get a voicemail, leave them a message encouraging their support. Feel free to make a follow up call again on Thursday to ask how your legislator is going to vote.

The Legislature must not put off action until next year—they MUST act on Thursday.

Please contact Mike Nystrom at or Keith Ledbetter at or call the MITA office at 517-347-8336 with any questions or comments.

Comment [20]


The rise of private-public transportation in a2

Posted by Nancy Shore on 23. November 2008

It used to be that transportation fit neatly into two basic categories: public transportation and private transportation. Think of buses vs. bikes or trains vs. cars.

We’ll here in Ann Arbor, and elsewhere in the world, a new trend is emerging.

Meet the new era of private-public transportation (PPT).

Comment [12] • Read More »


Where is bike parking needed?

Posted by Matt Hampel on 1. November 2008

After unlocking my bike from the transformer cage at the Amtrak Station (photo), I realized that there must be a bunch of places in Ann Arbor that need bike parking.

Here is an editable Google map — anyone can add points. Once we have a couple contributions, this might be info that getDowntown can use.

View Larger Map

Comment [11]

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority

AATA: 7 new locations with bus shelters; where do you want one?

Posted by Matt Hampel on 12. September 2008

AATA has a long-established service standard of placing shelters at bus stops with 50 or more boardings per day,” says Manager of Service Development Chris White.

The new shelters are:
Glencoe Hills
Medford at St. Francis
Washtenaw at Geddes
Hewitt Road at Fairway Trails
Carpenter Road at Coachville
Teubingen at Lancashire
Green Road at Nixon
(2 others replaced old shelters outside AATA headquarters)

I’ve created a map of AATA shelters — it only has those nine, but anyone can edit and add to it:

View Larger Map

Photo via AATA


Amtrak, AATA post latest ridership numbers (up!)

Posted by Murph on 11. August 2008

Last week, AATA published its 2007 Annual Report (12 page pdf), showing continued ridership growth (though less dramatic than in the 2 years previous). Today, the Ann Arbor News and Detroit News are reporting Amtrak ridership increases for the past year.

AATA boasted only a 2.5% increase in fixed-route riders in 2007, but notes that the past 3 years have seen a total 30% increase in ridership, as well as a 30% increase in productivity (measured in riders per service hour).

Amtrak reported Wolverine Line (Port Huron to Chicago) ridership increases of 5.9% for the October ’07 – July ’08 period, and national increases of 11.3% during that period. (See previous AU articles for historical data on the Ann Arbor station.)

Both operators note that system capacity is limited for future ridership increases – AATA notes that additional buses have been added during peak hours to handle the standing-room crowds that riders are familiar with, while the Amtrak articles repeat the earlier warning about a lack of rolling stock for increasing service. The DetNews cites Amtrak officials as estimating that ridership would have increased further, except that weekend trains are sold out, with some weekend demand spilling over onto Monday and Thursday routes. While the A2News notes that Congress has passed a “veto-proof” funding increase of 33% for Amtrak’s upcoming fiscal year, adding and upgrading rolling stock and rails could consume billions of dollars.

Comment [12]


Wally Plans Moving Forward

Posted by Nancy Shore on 1. July 2008

As gas prices continue to increase, more and more people in Washtenaw County are looking for alternative ways to get to work.

One possible (though not immediate) alternative is Commuter Rail.

There are currently two proposed rail projects connecting Ann Arbor to outlining areas.

One project that continues to move forward is the Washtenaw Livingston Line, or WALLY.

Today the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study gave a presentation on the WALLY. This presentation is a summary of reports compiled by R.L. Banks and Associates, the consultant that has been hired to judge the feasibility of the project.

Here is a summary of the major conclusions from the reports:

  • The Commuter service is feasible.
  • The service could be up and running in as little as 16 months.
  • The total capital costs for created a 60 Mile Per Hour Service (which is the consultants recommended speed for the trains) is $32.5 M.
  • The service should have a 30% farebox recovery ratio, which is considered a good rate.
  • The operating costs for the service could be between $6.3 and $7 M depending on the number of staff hired to run the service.
  • The estimated ridership is 1,300 a day (but the consultants suggest doing more throughout ridership surveys to get a better sense of the ridership).
  • More parking will probably be needed in the form of structures to accommodate all of the people who might want to use the service.
  • There will need to be bus service connecting in rail line to other areas in Ann Arbor at a minimum, but also preferably in Livingston County.

There is lots more in the reports online. You can read all of the reports here.

Comment [20]


Amtrak ridership up, regional transit options beginning to improve

Posted by Matt Hampel on 23. June 2008

A recent article in the New York Times says that Amtrak’s capacity is quickly being reached, and it will be difficult for the corporation to increase service:

Today Amtrak has 632 usable rail cars, and dozens more are worn out or damaged but could be reconditioned and put into service at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars each.

Writing specifications for bids, picking a vendor and waiting for delivery takes years, even if the money is in hand.

Use of Ann Arbor’s Amtrak service has been climbing heavily over the last couple of years. Data for 2008 isn’t readily available, but Richard Murphy produced this graph of Amtrak ridership out of ARB from 1994 to 2007 with Department of Transportation data:

Several years ago, Amtrak installed new high-speed switches on the route to Chicago. But service to Detroit is still spotty and inconvenient (the earliest trains from Ann Arbor arrive in Detroit at 3pm).

Plans for efficient lines from Ann Arbor to Detroit and Howell are progressing apace. Service to Detroit, possibly using Amtrak cars, is expected by early 2010. And the AATA’s Chelsea/A2 commuter service is a month into its 2-year pilot program.

Comment [37]


Public Forum: Fifth and Division Improvement Project

Posted by Nancy Shore on 13. May 2008

The Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA) has spent several years studying ways to accommodate traffic demands along Fifth Avenue and Division Street while also addressing community needs for sustainable transportation.

The DDA has developed a comprehensive improvement plan for the two corridors. You can read more about the plan here

The plan calls for adding bike lanes and parking on Fifth Ave. and Division Street in order to enhance conditions for pedestrians and cyclists while also offering parking spaces for cars. There are also other proposed enhancements.

The DDA is interested in hearing public feedback about the proposed Fifth and Division improvements plan as a first step before bringing a recommendation before Ann Arbor City Council to move ahead with this project.

Here are the details:
Fifth and Division Public Hearing
May 14, 7pm, City Council Chambers, 100 N. Fifth Avenue, Second Floor

If you have any sort of opinion about this project, please come and voice your views.

Comment [6]


getDowntown Events This Week

Posted by Juliew on 7. May 2008

I wanted to highlight two events being put on by the getDowntown program this week as part of Curb Your Car Month.

The first is a forum called Same Roads, Same Rules? sponsored by the Washtenaw Biking and Walking Coalition. This is tonight (Wednesday, May 7) at 7:00pm in the Downtown Development Authority Conference Room (150 S. Fifth Avenue, Suite 301). This public forum will focus on car/bike coexistence on the roads of Ann Arbor and how engineering solutions alone may not be sufficient to address them.

The second event is a panel discussion on real-life sustainable commuting tomorrow (Thursday, May 8) at the Ann Arbor District Library from 7:00 to 8:30pm. Join local commuting celebrities Ed Vielmetti, Scott Munzel (a local Attorney), Tamara Real (Arts Alliance) and Alaine Karoleff (Inner Circle Media) as they talk about their commutes: what methods they use, challenges and surprises they encounter, and most of all, how using a sustainable mode of transportation helps them “get more” out of their commute. Time will be left over for the folks in the audience to share their stories.

Hope to see you at one of these events!

Comment [19]

Ann Arbor Transportation Authority

Google Transit does the AATA

Posted by Bruce Fields on 23. April 2008

Google Headquarters, Ann Arbor, by rosefirerising

Google maps will now give you local bus directions between any two points (example). Neat-o. (Thanks to YpsiNews, via Phillip Farber and Ed Vielmetti.)

Ed notes that they’ve also done Detroit, and points out that there are now a couple ways to get between Ann Arbor and Detroit on transit. Google maps doesn’t seem to know about them, though.

Comment [10]

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