Employees of participating downtown Ann Arbor businesses will be able to use their go!passes to ride the bus for another year, without themselves paying a fare for any of their bus boardings.
Their fares will be paid by the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority – out of $674,264 that the DDA board has authorized to support the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority’s getDowntown program.
That amount includes operational and administrative overhead as well as reimbursements for fares. DDA board action came at its April 2, 2014 meeting. DDA board member Al McWilliams abstained from the vote, noting that getDowntown is a client of his marketing firm, Quack!Media.
The DDA has funded the program for more than a decade.
Under the rules of the program, a business or organization located within the DDA’s tax capture district can purchase bus passes for its employees for a nominal $10 apiece.
However, an “all-in” rule of the program requires that passes must be purchased for all employees, whether the passes will be used by every employee or not.
The DDA reimburses the AAATA based on the actual use of go!passes, which has shown steady increases over the last 10 years:
As a fraction of total rides taken on the AAATA, go!pass rides account for about 10%. The amount reimbursed by the DDA per go!pass use is $0.90. A “use” is a boarding of a bus, not a “connected trip.”
If a go!pass holder has a commute that involves a transfer from one bus route to another, then commuting both ways to work – which would count as just two connected trips – would generate a total of four boardings. The $0.90 go!pass cost per boarding is based on the number of boardings an average holder of the AAATA’s 30-day pass makes – divided into the cost for such a pass. A 30-day pass, with unlimited boardings, is available to anyone and costs $58. A holder of a 30-day pass who commutes both ways to work five days a week, using routes that require a transfer, would effectively be paying $0.64 per boarding [58/(22.667*4)]. Transfers don’t cost any extra on the AAATA system – so compared to the $1.50 full fare, such a rider would be paying $1.30 per trip.
A breakdown of the specific costs the DDA board agreed to fund in its April 2 action includes the following, which amounts to $674,264 for FY 2015, compared to $610,662 in FY 2014. The amounts allocated last year for each item are indicated in square brackets. Descriptions are summarized from getDowntown descriptions.
- getDowntown: [$40,488] $40,000. Support for programs, services, outreach and marketing to encourage downtown employers/employees to use transportation alternatives. 2015 Survey of Decision Makers and Employers.
- go!pass: [$479,000] $529,000. Transit incentive for employees. Cost increase due to estimated 5% increase in ridership over FY 2014. Reimbursement is $.90 per ride.
- NightRide improvements and go!pass discount: [$18,233] $20,500. For evening employees who depend on transit to get to work. Increase in amount reflects an increased demand for service and increase in ridership.
- Route #4 Washtenaw enhanced service: [$56,363] $57,772. Bus route with highest downtown employee ridership. The increase reflects a 2.5% cost of living increase due to increase in diesel fuel cost and operator wages.
- Route #5 Packard enhanced service: [$16,578] $16,992. Route used by significant numbers of downtown employees. The increase reflects a 2.5% cost of living increase due to increase in diesel fuel cost and operator wages.
- ExpressRide go!pass discount: [$0] $10,000. Service from Canton and Chelsea to Ann Arbor.
This brief was filed from the DDA offices at 150 S. Fifth Ave., where the DDA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report of the meeting will follow: [link]