AATA OKs Fare Increases: NightRide, Express

A fare increase for the AATA’s NightRide – for some kinds of trips taken on the service – has been approved by the AATA board. Also at its June 20, 2013 meeting, the  board approved fare increases for the express service from Chelsea and Canton.

The NightRide is a shared cab service with a basic fare of $5, which is available weekdays from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. and weekends from 7 p.m. to 6:45 a.m.

The service will still provide rides at its current $5 per rider for any trips that have their origin and destination within the city of Ann Arbor. And the current $5 per rider will continue to apply to any rides taken with an advance reservation – a system the AATA will be implementing, using vans. However, a $2 premium – for a total of $7 – will apply to rides with a destination or origin that’s not within the city of Ann Arbor, if no advance reservation is made. The move comes as a result of increased ridership on the service, after the AATA expanded the service to include the city of Ypsilanti.

The geographic coverage area of AATA’s NightRide was expanded eastward to Golfside Road in March 2011 and further to downtown Ypsilanti in January 2012 – as part of a broader effort to improve work transportation between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Many downtown Ann Arbor restaurant workers live in Ypsilanti. Ridership increased dramatically. [.jpg of NightRide chart through May 2012] And that resulted in higher costs – due to an adjustment in the contract between Blue Cab and AATA, which the board authorized on July 16, 2012.

Also as a result of board action on June 20, two express services – from Canton and Chelsea – will have their fares raised from $99 to $125 for a monthly pass; from $40 to $62.50 for a 10-ride ticket, and from $5 to $6.25 for a single trip. According to documentation on that fare increase provided to AATA board members, the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority have agreed to split the cost of subsidizing the fare increase. UM already subsidizes fares for its workers to ride the service.

At its March 6, 2013 board meeting, however, the DDA declined to include the requested $18,000 subsidy that AATA had requested for Canton and Chelsea express service support. That request had come in the context of AATA requests for other support – for the go!pass program for downtown commuters. The DDA board did agree to $610,662 of support for that program.

At the June 20 AATA board meeting, in reporting out from the performance monitoring and external relations committee, Roger Kerson made clear the Canton service had been “on the chopping block” but the UM had provided the resources necessary to continue the service. In his remarks, Kerson stressed that financing the express services for out-of-town commuters did not rely on any Ann Arbor taxpayer dollars. The funding from UM is for only a year, and the AATA is hoping that the new southeast Michigan regional transit Authority (RTA) – which includes Washtenaw County – would provide funding in future years.

The fare increases will be effective in August 2013.

At its June 20 meeting, the AATA board also approved several non-fare-related service changes to different routes. All except for one was considered minor. The major change was to Route 12 in Ann Arbor, which changed its departure times from Blake Transit Center in downtown Ann Arbor.

This brief was filed from the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library at 343 S. Fifth Ave., where the AATA board holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]