In response to the lack of adequate state funding and an increase in expenses, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority has decided to increase its fares for Night Ride from $3 to $5 per ride.
Night Ride, a shared-ride taxi service, provides transportation within the Ann Arbor city limits when AATA buses are not in service. Passengers pay a fixed fare per person, regardless of the distance traveled within the city or the time needed for the trip.
Its creation in the early ’80s was intended to assure the safety of students who had to get back to the residence halls after being in the city late in the evening, AATA Executive Director Greg Cook said.
Night Ride’s elimination was being considered as a way to offset financial loss, Cook said. A proposal to end the Night Ride taxi service after Sept. 30 was made at an AATA Board Meeting held last month. The board asked for input from Night Ride users and leaders of human service agencies who have contact with those who use Night Ride.
But after gathering input, it was apparent that those in the city that held low-income jobs were dependent on Night Ride as an economically feasible mode of transportation.
He added that some people who work late in the evening or early in the morning depend on Night Ride to get to work every day and that patients use the service to seek medical care at the hospitals, which operate 24 hours a day.
Cook said there was overwhelming support for Night Ride and that many did not mind the increased cost because even if Night Ride’s previous fare of $3 was doubled, it would be more economical for most users than a cab ride that could cost $11.
Cook said that AATA is concerned about the jobs of Night Ride users and will do what it can to assure that they get to their jobs every day.
“It’s allowing people to keep their jobs, and that’s important to us,” Cook said.
Scott Trudeau, a University alum who has used Night Ride, said the services it offers are necessary for those who work late or early in the morning and cannot afford a car of their own. He added that an increase in fare makes it possible for Night Ride to continue without putting AATA in jeopardy.
“My biggest concern is definitely providing a service to fill the gap when AATA isn’t running busses, for people who use it to commute late at night or early in the morning.
I think the decision they made was a good compromise,” Trudeau said.
Dale Winling, a director of the New West Side Association, a tenant neighborhood association, said some people absolutely need this service. He added that it is necessary for Ann Arbor to provide for the people who fall through the cracks of other programs.
Winling said he was happy to see that Night Ride was not discontinued.