DDA OKs Bus Pass Funding for Downtown

Ann Arbor downtown workers who are employed by participating companies will continue to have the fare for their rides on Ann Arbor Transportation Authority buses covered by the go!pass program – as a result of a $610,662 grant from the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority. Holders of a go!pass do not themselves pay a fare to board the bus. Rides are subsidized by the DDA and to a much lesser extent by employers.

The DDA board voted to approve the grant at its March 6, 2013 meeting. The total grant to the getDowntown program breaks out as follows:

YEAR                    2014
getDowntown          $40,488    
go!pass             $479,000   
go!pass discount     $18,233     
Route 4 
East of US-23        $56,363   
Route 5 
East of US-23        $16,578   
Total               $610,662


Compared to the request made at the previous month’s board meeting, on Feb. 6, 2013, a revised request made at the operations committee meeting on March 1, 2013 increased the line item for the getDowntown program by $5,000 – for marketing, outreach and operations. That increase was from $35,488 to $40,488. At that operations committee meeting, members resisted the $18,000 that had been requested to support the AATA’s Express Ride service from Chelsea and Canton, and did not include it in the recommendation to the board.

The go!pass program requires a participating downtown employer to purchase a go!pass for all employees in the company – at a cost of $10 a year per employee. That translated to a peak of 7,226 go!passes in circulation for FY 2011. That number dropped to 6,591 in FY 2012 – or $65,910 to offset the cost of rides taken with the go!pass. The requested funding is based on projections of the estimated number of rides taken. Last year around 601,000 rides were taken using the go!pass by around 4,130 employees. The combination of go!pass funding is meant to work out to $0.90 per ride.

Through the AATA’s fiscal year 2012, which concluded at the end of September 2012, here’s how go!pass ridership has trended:

go!pass totals by year

go!pass total rides by year. The number of rides taken with go!passes has roughly doubled since 2004. This past year reflected a dip, which appears to be related to a reduced number of cards in circulation: 6,591 compared to 7,226. (Data from AATA; chart by The Chronicle.)

go!pass ridership by month

go!pass rides by month, year over year. The red trend line is the most recent year, 2012. The previous year is shown in black. (Data from AATA; chart by The Chronicle.)

Rides per go!pass

While the total number of rides dipped slightly, the number of rides per card continued its upward trend. Since 2004, the number of rides per card has increased from about 60 to about 90. (Data from getDowntown program; chart by The Chronicle.)

Full adult fare for AATA regular bus service is $1.50. According to the most recent AATA treasurer’s report, current operating costs for the AATA regular bus service work out to about $3.18 per rider. On average, a rider pays 22.1% of that cost and the local transit tax covers 34.6%. The remainder is covered with state and federal operating assistance.

This brief was filed from the Ann Arbor DDA offices located at 150 S. Fifth Ave., Suite 301, where the DDA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report of the meeting will follow: [link]