The Ann Arbor Area Transit Authority (AAATA) has recently added several new routes and programs to its services, including adding two additional stops to its FlexRide service in Ypsilanti Township.
FlexRide microtransit service was launched in the fall of 2017, in areas of Ypsi Township that don't have the population density to support fixed-route services. Riders can use an app or call for FlexRide service one day ahead or the same day. The service is offered in partnership with Metro On-Demand (MODE), a division of Golden Limousine.
Starting Aug. 26, FlexRide will begin taking reservations for people who live in two of the township's apartment complexes, Lake Pointe and Schooner Cove.
AAATA community relations manager Mary Stasiak says "ridership started out slow" for the microtransit program but adds that awareness of FlexRide continues to grow.
"We did a promotion this past winter with promotional free fares, and the number of trips doubled during that period," Stasiak says.
The total number of riders who utilized FlexRide in the first six months was about 500, but she and others at AAATA expect that to grow as more people learn what's available.
Stasiak says her sense is that riders are using FlexRide for shopping, doctor's appointments, and connecting to Route 46, which includes Huron River Drive and Textile Road. Fewer riders are using the service for commuting to work, but the program wasn't necessarily designed with commuters in mind.
To see how riders are using the service and how the service can better benefit users, AAATA plans to survey riders and the community at large in the near future.
"We want to get a better sense of other uses riders might want," Stasiak says. "We might be missing a whole group of people who could be using it, and we want to know what that would look like."
Additionally, AAATA's Route 68, which serves the Gault Village Shopping Center in Ypsi Township, has been expanded to include stops by Loon Feather Point Park, The Ranches Of Rosebrook apartments, and the Save-a-Lot shopping complex off Holmes Road. Route 58 also now connects with Route 43 so that riders don't have to get off the bus to transfer from 58 to 43.
To better serve Ypsi Township, AAATA also launched the Route 81 Ypsilanti Township Express route from Ypsi Township to the University of Michigan campus and downtown Ann Arbor in January. Two nonstop rush hour trips are available each morning, and another two nonstop express trips are offered in the afternoon.
AAATA is also currently running a special summer program that ends Aug. 27, allowing Ann Arbor District Library or Ypsilanti District Library cardholders to ride free to any destination on weekends by simply showing their library card to a bus driver.
All the Ypsi Township improvements were funded by a 2014 transportation millage aimed at improving services on the eastern side of Washtenaw County. The millage was up for renewal on the Aug. 7 ballot, but results weren't available at press time.
Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.