After voters this month approved the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority
's (AAATA) proposal for a millage to expand transit services, service improvements are slated to take effect in summer 2024.
AAATA CEO Matthew Carpenter explains that the millage funding will allow AAATA to save money to make some smaller-scale changes before implementing bigger changes. Larger-scale changes will include expanding bus service on weekends and evenings, and constructing an express route along Washtenaw Avenue to cut commute time between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti by 30%.
“A portion of the millage is dedicated to bringing customer service agents to the Ypsilanti Transit Center,” says Carpenter. “Riders can ask questions about travel and fare options, purchase fare products, and get signed up for programs right away.”
Previously, riders could only access some of these services by visiting AAATA's main office in Ann Arbor.
Carpenter says these changes are just the first step in a greater 25-year plan to improve public transit in Washtenaw County.
“The long-range plan foresees a larger, more frequent transit service in the Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area," he says. "We’re looking to build dedicated bus lanes and intercounty services to further connect to Detroit, Livingston County, and beyond.”
Carpenter also notes a long-term goal of implementing a full bus rapid transit system, which would “simulate the experience you would get from a subway,” with limited stops, larger shelters, and off-board fare collection.
Beyond shortening commute times and improving environmental impact, Carpenter thinks these improvements will positively influence the Washtenaw County area in the short and long term.
“When you strip away all the equipment and everything else, we are about access to opportunity,” he says. “For a lot of folks in our community, transportation can be a real barrier to opportunity. It’s really about [spending] more time on the things you want, and less time traveling to them. We look forward to delivering all of these services to the community as soon as we can.”
More information on AAATA service is available here
Rylee Barnsdale is a Michigan native and longtime Washtenaw County resident. She wants to use her journalistic experience from her time at Eastern Michigan University writing for the Eastern Echo to tell the stories of Washtenaw County residents that need to be heard.
Photo courtesy of AAATA.