Officials at the Ann Arbor Area Transit Authority want residents to know that a “Yes” vote on the Public Transportation ballot question Aug. 7 does not raise taxes. What it does raise is the community profile when it comes to providing services for its residents.
Yes, it supports expanded fixed routes and services by TheRide for seniors and people with disabilities that were approved by voters in 2014. But, no, it doesn’t raise taxes; it simply renews and restores 0.7 mills approved by voters in 2014.
It’s all part of a continuation of the AAATA’s Five-Year Improvement Plan, which started in 2014. Highlights of the plan since its implementation have been numerous. Let’s take a quick look, year-by-year, and some of the new features:
- 2014: Later weekday hours were implemented on 15 routes, there was new Saturday services started on 18 routes and there was the beginning of expanded A-Ride Service.
- 2015: There were later weekend hours added with new routes, including new Sunday service, and still more expanded A-Ride Service.
- 2016: More frequent services were added, including still more additional routes with more direct service.
- 2017: FlexRide Pilot Service was implemented in Ypsilanti Township.
- 2018: Express Services were added between Ypsilanti Township and Ann Arbor.
Residents’ reactions to the increased services has been overwhelming, according to AAATA officials.
“I can’t imagine my life without TheRide,” says Kathleen, of Ann Arbor. “To be able to be independent, to raise my child, to have a life. That’s what TheRide has given me.”
Kathleen is not alone in her appreciation of TheRide.
“TheRide gives me the freedom to do what I need and live how I want, said Sara, of Ann Arbor. “I especially love taking my grandkids on the bus.”
TheRide provides benefits to all residents in the area who use it, and it provides a special benefit to an important segment of the population.
“The city bus and Park & Ride lots have proven to be a wonderful benefit for VA employees,” says Stephan, who works at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System. “They avoid parking hassles and it’s easy for them to get to work.”
There have been 18 buses purchased in the last three years to accommodate the increases in services, and these do not include new buses to replace buses which have reached the end of their useful life.
Since the beginning of the Five-Year Transportation Improvement Plan, there have been 15 new bus routes added: six in Ann Arbor, including three that extend into Scio Township; and seven new routes in the Ypsilanti area. Two new routes also were started in Pittsfield Township as part of their Purchase of Service Agreement.
Fixed-Route ridership was up 5 percent in fiscal year 2017 from 2016, which shows that residents are using and appreciating the new services. Total ridership, which included Fixed-Route, NightRide, AirRide, A-Ride, Senior GoldRide and Express Routes totaled 6,879,996. These are the kinds of numbers that prove the importance of TheRIde to the Ann Arbor area.
Statistics don’t lie. When millions ride, you know it’s a vital part of the community. It goes beyond word of mouth, although there is plenty of word of mouth to hear.
“I live in Ypsilanti and work in Ann Arbor,” says Erica. “I love taking the bus because parking is so hard in Ann Arbor.
Want more stats? According to Onboard and Community Surveys, 88 percent of riders are satisfied with driver courtesy, 83 percent are satisfied with cleanliness of buses, 84 percent are satisfied with quality of service information and 84 percent are satisfied with conditions of bus stops.
Oh, and one other added – albeit, unexpected – benefit. Camaraderie.
“It’s useful, you can trust it,” said Michael, from Ann Arbor. “And the drivers are nice, too. They are trustworthy people.”
For more information, log onto http://www.therideyourway.org/