The Regional Transit Authority of Southeast Michigan (RTA) is looking to make travel between Ann Arbor and Detroit less of a hassle.
The RTA held a public hearing about a potential new bus service, in collaboration with TheRide, connecting the two cities on Wednesday evening at the Ann Arbor District Library. About 40 people attended the public hearing about the new pilot bus service looking to connect the two major cities.
Matt Webb, general manager of the RTA, said the pilot program aims to connect Ann Arbor and Detroit in a way that other transport services do not provide by evaluating the market ridership between the two communities to cater the service to them.
“We will also use this to test the effectiveness and build the ridership base, so when the Michigan Department of Transportation looks to rebuild I-94 in the future, it might be a viable transportation alternative that is already in place, and ridership and people will be comfortable and already used to the service,” Webb said.
The pilot program will provide a bus service connecting downtown Detroit and downtown Ann Arbor. This service will provide an hourly direct route between the Blake Transit Center (Ann Arbor) and Grand Circus Park (Detroit). It will operate from 6 a.m to 10 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays with a limited weekend schedule.
Some attendees had concerns concern about the limited weekend schedule. Yuri Popov, an Ann Arbor-Detroit commuter, praised the availability of the bus service during the weekdays but expressed his concern about the weekend schedule.
“While the weekday frequency is excellent, I think the weekend frequency can be improved further,” Popov said. “With only four round trips per day, it is still comparable to the existing services. The main recreational riders, particularly U-M students, might be using this service if it is more frequent.”
Another concern was the actual location of the bus stop in Ann Arbor. Resident Clark Charnetski said the Blake Transit Center is not the best bus stop for those commuting from Detroit.
“People coming to Ann Arbor are coming to the Blake Transit Center and that isn’t usually their ultimate destination,” Charnetski said. “They may want to go to Central Campus, North Campus or the Medical Center. There may be a need for a shuttle service, possibly provided by the University.”
Attendees also suggested advertising the service better, implementing a later bus service for people commuting to Ann Arbor or Detroit for late-night events.
The proposed base fare for the bus service will be $12, one-way. By advance booking a passenger seat 15 minutes before the bus leaves, passengers can save $2. Senior citizens and people with disabilities receive a $6 discount.
Earlier that day, the RTA held another public hearing in Detroit where residents and commuters expressed similar concerns about the frequency of the service as well as the fare.
“In Detroit, we heard a lot of comments regarding the fare and a lot of comments regarding extended service,” Webb said. “They like the hourly frequency.”
Webb also mentioned similar concerns about the later service during the weekdays and the weekend.