Connecting the County
In any case, the u196 board won't be in the shadows much longer. It could drop its "u" as early as this summer, when it files the paperwork to become a legal entity under Michigan Act 196, which authorizes public transportation authorities. And it's sure to be in the spotlight once it starts to build and finance a planned countywide transit system. The five-year first phase, announced in April, includes more frequent buses and longer hours in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, especially on weekends; more door-to-door service for seniors and people with disabilities; and more park-and-ride lots and express bus service for the rest of the county.
The price tag: an estimated $218 million. While most capital and operating expenses are projected to be covered from the existing AATA millage, federal and state grants, and rider fares, the current draft shows a $33 million shortfall. Filling that gap will almost certainly require new local taxes or fees.