With the pandemic still simmering, it was a bold move by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (AAATA) to put a 2.38-mill tax request on the August 2 ballot. Though it tripled the tax for regional services in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Ypsi Township, it passed in all three communities by margins of 63 percent, 75 percent, and just over 50 percent respectively—despite opposition in Ypsi Township, where officials questioned its cost and value.

Asked how he felt the day after the vote, authority CEO Matt Carpenter emailed that he was “sleepy. I stayed up too late watching the returns. But very, very happy.” The new funding will cover an operating deficit, fund facility upgrades, and add something “people have been asking us for,” Carpenter says: a new express route connecting downtown Ann Arbor to downtown Ypsilanti that should reduce travel times by almost a third. They’ll also roll out longer hours and more frequent service on existing routes. 

Passengers eager for change will have to wait two years to see most of the impact: the extra funding won’t be available until August 2024. Among other things, Carpenter says, they’ll be using the breathing space “to hire and train a whole bunch of new bus drivers.”