A little over a month ago, community members residing in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, & Ypsilanti Township witnessed a HUGE win for transit! Partners for Transit exists because we know how important transit is to our community – and that improvements were needed. Near the end of 2013, we learned about the significant improvements that could come with the AAATA’s Five-Year Transit Improvement Plan, specifically the proposed 44% increase in bus service.
The service plan would bring forth a number of benefits for our community, but we knew funding was critical to making this great plan a reality. That’s why Partners for Transit decided to advocate for the Ride’s Five-Year Transit Improvement Plan. Thanks to our organizing efforts, the AAATA board expanded its service area to include Ypsilanti and Ypsilanti Township, approved the final plan, and gave registered voters the opportunity to vote on whether or not they supported a .7 millage to fund the service plan.
Once the decision was made to allow the voters to decide, Partners for Transit members took the lead in the nine-week More Buses campaign. We hit the ground running with constant outreach to registered voters, social media promotion, and one-on-one outreach. We had over 35 organizations working as the More Buses campaign to help get out the YES vote on May 6.
During the campaign, we heard criticism based on misleading information and did not want folks to go to the polls ill-informed. We went door-to-door and made personal phone calls so voters had facts about proposed service improvements and the true costs they could expect.
Voter support was truly overwhelming. The stories from individual riders about what increased service meant to people’s livelihoods nourished our organizing efforts and fueled the More Buses campaign.
We knew there were possibilities of losing, but we continued to push forward collectively. Our volunteers were persistent, our partners were determined, and our campaign was focused.
As we awaited the results on the evening of May 6, all of our hope was contained inside one room across from the Aut Bar in Kerry Town. We stood together as results came in, ward by ward, and finally someone shouted, “I think it’s safe to say… We won it!” The room filled with smiles, cheers, and tears.
On May 6, 2014 71% of voters across the three communities voted YES and collectively we were able to approve something that would make the urban core of Washtenaw County and its people stronger! We were able to bring to the urban core of Washtenaw County.
On May 6, 2014 71% of voters across the three communities voted YES and collectively we were able to approve something that would make the urban core of Washtenaw County and its people stronger! We were able to bring More Buses, More Places, More Often to the urban core of Washtenaw County.
Now, where do we go from here? We always knew our organizing efforts would continue beyond May 6. Our 30+ Partners for Transit must continue to communicate service changes and improvements as well as continue to voice our needs as implementation commences.
Additionally, we must communicate, mediate, and engage residents we serve so that they are aware of public transportation service improvements available. This win means so much for our community, we ask that you stay connected and please be sure to check out our video campaign that explains why transit matters to residents in this community. Finally, don’t forget to follow us in our various social media platforms so that you are up to date on transit activities happening in the area!