At the end of the winter semester of his freshman year, LSA junior Ben Gottlieb couldn’t find a ride to the airport to return to his sunny home in Hawaii.
Instead of paying for a $50 cab ride, Gottlieb chose Airbus, a service sponsored by the Michigan Student Assembly that takes students to Detroit Metro Airport before and after breaks. This Thanksgiving break, Airbus increased its ride service by 38 percent over last year, providing a total of 1,862 rides to and from the airport.
This winter break, Airbus is planning a record 88 airport trips and expects more passengers than it had last year.
“In the past, we have had overfilled busses,” said Josh Kersey, the administrative executive for airbus. “This year, we have scheduled almost 50 percent more than last year.”
MSA President Jesse Levine said he believes more students are using Airbus because it is “run very well, publicized well and the students who run it are passionate.” According to the Airbus website, since its inception in 2002, 97 percent of the shuttles have run on time.
“This makes sense for students by being affordable and reasonable,” Levine said, adding, “I used it.”
Kersey said Airbus has made other improvements to its services besides providing more rides. New buses have been commissioned, and the fare structure has been redone. Students are no longer required to hold onto tickets for the duration of their trips. Additionally, to increase awareness of the shuttle, MSA has been flyering, purchasing bus signs and using Facebook announcements.
Higher use is also due to word of mouth, Levine said.
“When a student uses Airbus and it is a positive experience, they are likely to tell their friends,” he said.
For a trip to Detroit, it is suggested that students purchase tickets in advance at the Michigan Union Ticket Office. Students may also use their Mcards to buy walk-on seats, but space is limited for students without a reservation.
An Mcard is used to buy return trip tickets on a first-come, first-served basis. Cards are swiped on the bus and charged to the holder’s student account.
“I think it’s a helpful service,” said LSA sophomore Bruna Barbosa. “It’s cheap, on time and comfortable.”
The cost of a ticket to the airport is $7, while a return trip costs $10. Airbus makes trips to the Detroit Metro Airport from Dec. 16 to Dec. 23 and provides rides back to campus for the two days before classes start in January. Airbus has pickup locations in the Hill area, North Campus and Central Campus.
“It was run efficiently, and I was pleased,” Gottlieb said. “Seven bucks is a lot better than 50 (for a cab).”