Does Saline need to be serviced by a comprehensive, county-wide transit plan?
In the coming weeks, Washtenaw County cities, townships and villages will be making that determination. Communities are being asked to join a new Washtenaw County transportation authority. Next year, voters in the member communities will be asked to approve a .584 mill property tax (approximately $58 annually on a home worth $200,000) to fund new public transit programs in the county.
A new five-year transit planreleased earlier this month by the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority detailed the proposal, which estimated to cost $223 million over the next five years. About $184 million would be raised from user fees and other revenue sources, leaving taxpayers to fund the other $39 million, according to the plan. (Click here for the Plan.)
Bill Lavery represented the county’s south-central district -- the cities of Saline and Milan, and the townships of Lodi, York and Saline -- on the board that helped formulate the plan. Tuesday night, representatives from the AATA met with citizens at the Saline Senior Center to talk about the plan. Lavery said about 20 people from various walks of life attended the meeting.
“We really had a good discussion and mixed it up with people speaking from various viewpoints,” Lavery said. “I thought we talked our way through the issues and had a good session.”
The needs of an aging population, fuel prices and changes in culture are driving efforts for a county-wide plan., Lavery said. The AATA currently serves Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, parts of Pittsfield Township and the City of Chelsea.
Lavery said it’s now up to local governments, such as the Saline City Council, to engage the public before deciding if they wish to move forward with the plan.
The program would create several new services for Saline residents, including:
- Express Ride – Commuting hour trips from Saline to Ann Arbor. Trips would be every 30 minutes, with seven morning trips and 8 evening trips. The AATA estimates 41,000 annual trips.
- Dial-a-Ride – Small bus, van or taxi pick-ups and rides. In some cases, people are taken to the main bus stop.
- Community Connectors -- Saline would be connected to Ann Arbor. These services may deviate from their route to pick up and drop off passengers. Would run every two hours, Monday for four hours, from Monday through Saturday. The AATA estimates 10,000 annual trips.
- Community Circulator – Smaller bus service travelling within Saline. The circulator would run every hour, four hours a day, from Monday through Saturday. The AATA estimates 12,000 trips annually.
The Saline community circulator would stop at State Street Crossing, Commons of Sauk Trail, Saline Shopping Center, the Saline municipal building, Downtown, St. Joseph Mercy Saline Hospital, Saline Middle School, the Saline Rec Center and Saline High School.
According to the AATA, a recent poll shows 59 percent of Washtenaw County likely voters would support a one-mill tax to fund county-wide transit.
The new report creates a short term plan for public transportation in Washtenaw County and creates the blueprint to begin implementing the 30-Year vision previously developed, according to the AATA. The vision is a culmination of two years of work in obtaining input from citizens, officials and civic leaders representing local governments from throughout county, according to the AATA press release.
Pittsfield Township residents are invited to learn about the plan from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m., Sept. 18 at the Pittsfield Senior Center.