The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority’s board of directors unanimously approved a new operating budget for the 2012-13 year, which took effect Oct. 1. Due to lack of federal support, the board was forced to redistribute funds within its $32.7 million budget.
The board voted Sept. 27 on the proposed budget, which was balanced through a combination of spending cuts, a wage freeze for AATA non-union employees and the use of federal funds now available for day-to-day operations, as well as dipping into $300,000 from AATA’s reserves.
The Michigan Department of Transportation removed $803,500 from the fund that assists the AATA with operating costs, and the board said the remaining $1.47 million in federal funding will still accommodate for current services, including the recently passed five-year transit program.
The program includes additional service on bus Route 4 along Washtenaw Avenue. It also includes the expansion of their NightRide and AirRide programs, a late-night shared taxi service and a round-trip service between Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro Airport, respectively.
Reducing service to AATA passengers because of MDOT’s decision “Was not an option that we would consider,” AATA Chief Executive Officer Michael Ford said in a Sept. 26 press release. “We chose to tighten our belts to ensure reliable passenger service continues without disruption to riders.”
The AATA’s use of federal funds in the fiscal 2013 budget is permissible through legislation approved by Congress as part of a new transportation bill called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.
“The way AATA programs use federal formula funds reflects astute financial leadership that has left us in very good shape with the new federal transportation legislation,” Ford said in the release.
The AATA does not depend on funds to replace buses. Instead they carry over the funds each year and make sure to have formula funds available for bus replacement. The AATA plans to use some of the $1.47 million federal formula funds to help pay the cost of the new services that are part of the five-year transit program.
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