Beginning in April, Ann Arbor residents may be able to reach Detroit’s Metro Airport more easily, and at a more affordable price.
The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority Board of Directors voted yesterday to implement a new AirRide busing system which would partner with Michigan Flyer, a subgroup of the Indian Trails Motor Coach busing service, to provide service from Ann Arbor to the airport.
The partnership will consist of 12 daily round trips to Detroit Metro Airport, which will depart from the Fourth Avenue and East William Street intersection, the Blake Transit Center and near Briarwood Mall. The cost of the ride is $15 one-way, with discounts for seniors, children and disabled riders.
David Nacht, board member for the AirRide project, said he has been attempting to implement a better airport transportation system since he joined the board nine years ago.
“We have been impressed as an agency with (Michigan Flyer’s) private sector work, moving people to and from the airport,” Nacht said. “But they have been limited in our community as a private entity (and) the airport dealt with them in a certain way.”
Anya Dale, chair of AATA’s planning and development committee, suggested potential issues may arise moving forward with AirRide. The committee proposed placing signage around the airport to direct passengers to the buses. It also suggested that the AATA contact community partners to get the word out about the new service and collaborate with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority regarding reduced rate parking for people to park their cars while they’re out of town.
“The marketing for this service is going to be beneficial to businesses in our community, for the universities in our community, for the hospitals in our community and mostly for the people who live in this community who go out of town,” Nacht said.
According to Chris White, a federal government employee in attendance at the meeting, the proposed plan will cost an estimated $300,000. If the program runs successfully for two years, the federal government will award the AirRide buses 50 cents per mile, which will amount to $130,000 recovered in total.
Despite the sum, Nacht said the needs of the community outweigh the cost.
“We just saw a survey result that showed something like 65 percent or 70 percent of the public think it’s very important or somewhat important for this service to exist,” Nacht said. “I think we are going to see a lot of people use this service.”
During his State of the State address in January, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder stressed the importance of quality public transportation and announced an initiative to improve transit systems in Southeast Michigan.
“This is a wonderful, efficient way to provide for a useful service. I am hoping it works beautifully,” Nacht said.