Ecology Center plays lead role in coalition
"This vote marks a watershed moment for our region," according to Michael Garfield, director of the Ecology Center, after voters overwhelmingly approved the proposal to support enhanced public transit in Washtenaw County's urban core on the May 6 ballot.
"Voters have made an emphatic statement in support of seniors, people with disabilities, workers, and the environment – and in support of the value of public transportation in moving our community forward," Garfield said. "And they have made an emphatic statement that we are one community – whether we live in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, or Ypsilanti Township – and that public transportation connects us together."
By adopting the new 0.7 mill tax on property, residents in the communities served by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority will see expanded evening and weekend hours, more buses on busy routes, and expanded options for seniors and people with disabilities.
The Ecology Center was a leader in Partners for Transit, a coalition formed to support the ballot proposal. The campaign was endorsed by dozens of civic and business organizations, political and civil rights groups, elected officials and candidates, labor unions, and leaders of institutions across the region.
Garfield pointed out that the campaign succeeded in the face of organized opposition and in a low-turnout election, both of which have meant failure for millage proposals in the past.
"The AAATA deserves great credit for the extensive research and community input it conducted before placing the proposal on the ballot, and for adapting its plans in response to that input," he said. "Partners for Transit will stay involved in the conversation over public transportation in the area, and we'll monitor TheRide’s implementation of this plan, to make sure it best meets the community’s needs."
In addition, the coalition plans to continue to engage supporters in the other communities that are part of the county's "urban core," including Saline and Pittsfield and Scio townships that are part of the AAATA's service expansion plan, but that need to still decide on their level of participation in it.
"And finally, we will stay engaged in other initiatives to enhance public transportation in the region, including the Ann Arbor Connector, the RTA system, and other proposals," Garfield said.
EcoLink — May 2014
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