Ann Arbor Transportation Authority Expands, Adds City of Ypsilanti and Adopts New Legal Name

Following unanimous approvals by both Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti City Councils to amend the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority Articles of Incorporation, AATA formally added the City of Ypsilanti as a member municipality.  Tonight, as part of the expansion, the Board of Directors took action to formally adopt the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority as its new legal name. The Board will consist of eight members appointed by the City of Ann Arbor and one appointed by the City of Ypsilanti.

Gillian Ream, Communications and Development Coordinator of the Ypsilanti District Library, was confirmed to represent the City of Ypsilanti on the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (TheRide) Board of Directors after being nominated by Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber.  Ms. Ream spends most of her time, both personally and professionally, working to enrich the Ypsilanti community.  She is involved in Bike Ypsi and engages with a wide variety of local organizations.  Until recently, she worked at the Michigan Suburbs Alliance, doing marketing and communications work around issues of energy efficiency, transportation, civic engagement and intergovernmental cooperation.  Ms. Ream was born and raised in Ann Arbor and holds an M.S. from UM’s School of Natural Resources and a B.A. from Kalamazoo College.  She brings a unique perspective of transit systems, having used them regularly when she lived in Toronto and Baltimore.  “Becoming an official member of the TheRide is an important step for Ypsilanti.  So many of our residents depend on transit, and joining TheRide will give those residents a stronger voice and help Ypsilanti become a more interconnected part of the region,” said Ms. Ream.  “Ypsilanti is also a haven for artists and entrepreneurs, and we hold dozens of events and festivals each year celebrating our art, music and local history.   TheRide’s services help make it easy for Ypsilanti residents, as well as people in Ann Arbor and the surrounding townships, to enjoy what our city has to offer.”

Gillian Ream’s appointment follows that of Eric Mahler and Susan Baskett, who replaced David Nacht and Jesse Bernstein on TheRide’s Board of Directors in May.  Mr. Mahler, an Assistant General Counsel for Meritor, Inc. who provides legal advice concerning labor and employment issues, formerly held a post on the Ann Arbor Planning Commission.  When he is not practicing law, Mr. Mahler enjoys and has been heavily involved in community service.  In addition to his service on the Ann Arbor City Planning Commission, he has also served on the Washtenaw County Workforce Development Board, the Community Housing Alliance Board of Directors, the Straker Bar Association Board of Trustees, and the American Arbitration Association Employment Advisory Council.  “I am honored and excited to join TheRide’s Board of Directors and look forward to a period of prosperous growth,” said Mr. Mahler.  “As a Board member, I am focused on increasing ridership, improving and expanding services and making TheRide the transportation of choice for the future of the regional Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area.”

Avid public transit user Susan Baskett’s career includes highlights as an advertising executive and community activist.  Ms. Baskett, who also has been a trustee on the Ann Arbor Board of Education since 2003, brings her experience dealing with transportation for K-12 students to TheRide, and believes that Ann Arbor is in need of a more robust public transit system.  "I am very honored to be appointed to TheRide’s Board.  I see great opportunities for collaboration for the benefit of all of our citizens, young and old,” she said.  “I see a strong public transit system as an important part to a good quality of life in our community.  It’s good for the environment and key to those who can’t or choose not to drive.  As a teenager, I used the bus to meet up with friends at Briarwood.  As a young adult, I commuted from my family home to campus at U of M.  I am a believer in public transit and will do my part of keeping and hopefully expanding TheRide’s service.  I look forward to offering my expertise and am very impressed with the level of commitment that I see in everyone at TheRide.”

“Adding the City of Ypsilanti aligns with our vision to bring more transportation options to a greater number of residents and strengthens our ability to maintain existing levels of service, while continuing to improve and expand service where possible.  This includes increasing frequency and hours of operation, which has been a common thread in community discussions,” said TheRide’s Chief Executive Officer Michael G. Ford.  “With a record 6.6 million rides last year, funding the services that are needed to meet this growing demand is challenging, but the rewards and benefits are enjoyed by all who live or work within the service area, not just by those who ride.”

“Uniting Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti further strengthens Washtenaw County’s Urban Core and positions our communities for a more healthy and vibrant future,” said TheRide’s Board Chair Charles Griffith.  “There is much work yet to be done, but this is an exciting milestone and an opportunity to be proud of what we’ve accomplished together.”