Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

Proposal to Discontinue Night Ride

22. August 2005 • MarkDilley
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Notice is hereby given of a proposal by the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) to discontinue Night Ride taxi service after September 30, 2005.

Night Ride provides shared-ride taxi service within the city limits of Ann Arbor at times when AATA buses are not in service. Night Ride is proposed for elimination as part of AATA efforts to reduce costs in response to continuing cuts in the level of state funding.

Comments or Questions: If you have a comment or question about the proposed elimination of Night Ride, please contact the AATA by August 17, 2005 by any of the following methods: Call the AATA Service Hotline, 734.677.3934. E-mail the AATA at cwhite@theride.org . Fax the AATA at 973.6338, addressing the fax to “Service Changes”. Write the AATA at: Service Changes, 2700 S. Industrial Hwy., Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Attend the public hearing to be held at the beginning of the AATA Board Meeting at 7:30 p.m. on August 24, 2005, at the address above.

I got this in an email, with the reply, which is the first comment.



  1. “Night Ride is a late-night, shared-ride taxi service organized and funded by the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. . . . The AATA initiated Night Ride in response to the community’s need for safe, low-cost transportation late at night.”—Quote from the AATA website (http://theride.org/nightride.asp)

    Chris White
    AATA Director of Service Management

    Hi Chris:

    As you’re probably aware, my partner and I have relied on Night Ride as our sole method of transportation to work for roughly 25 years—beginning with AATA’s “Dial-a-Ride” in the period before Night Ride service began in 1983. We’ve experienced the steady improvements in service over the years, from that first year under Veterans Cab, whose dispatchers disparagingly called it the “Fright Ride” and routinely treated us as second-class citizens, through the 20 years with Yellow Cab, who turned it into a first-class operation, and now under Blue Cab, whose consistent reliability have turned it into a genuine pleasure for us and something in which AATA should take great pride.

    All these years, the majority of our fellow passengers have been Ann Arbor residents living in “affordable housing” who need a way to get to or from their Ann Arbor workplaces when the fixed-route buses aren’t in service. By and large we’re the workers who do the less-prestigious but crucial jobs that maintain Ann Arbor at night, the ones who put the city to bed and ready it to welcome its residents and workers each morning: we’re the night janitors and cleaning staff, the prep cooks and bakers, the UM hospital and laundry and residence-hall workers, the motel clerks and gas-station attendants, and the staff and servers and service people responsible for opening our workplaces each morning or closing them at night.

    But we’re also the UM students who need a safe ride at night, the outpatients who need a prescription filled at the 24-hour Walgreen’s, the otherwise socially isolated folks who depend on occasional visits to friends or Denny’s at night to fill the void in our lives, the survivors of domestic abuse whose car had to be left behind, and the responsible bar patrons who do everyone a favor by not attempting to drive themselves home.

    None of us have any other viable, safe, reliable way to commute during the nighttime hours. Some of us can’t yet or can’t any longer afford to maintain both a car and a home in Ann Arbor. Some of us have lost both car and home and are crashing with friends or living at the YMCA or public housing or in one of the shelters downtown. Some of us are prevented from driving because of our age, or emotional problems, or physical or mental impairments.

    A lot of us live or work in the downtown area, and a lot of us are UM staff or students. All of us would benefit if the UM and the Downtown Development Authority would help AATA to maintain the Night Ride – and the affiliated Senior and ADA Ride during the night – by subsidizing it the way they recently did for the less-popular Link bus service. And, given its firm commitment to maintaining “affordable housing” in Ann Arbor, it certainly would be appropriate for the City Council to help ensure Night Ride’s continuance, because it makes no sense to focus on providing affordable housing to people like us if we cannot afford transportation within the city itself. Most of all, though, it seems crucial that AATA put its priorities into human and humane perspective during this time of budgetary restraints. The Link bus, for example, is a wonderful luxury that we’ve often used, but there is no location serviced by the Link bus that is too far for most people to easily walk in 15 minutes at most.

    It’s truly crucial that AATA not abandon those of us who have no real alternatives, even if that means doubling the Night Ride fares and the nighttime Senior and ADA fares we must currently pay for the privilege of living and working in Ann Arbor.
       —Beni    Aug. 22 '05 - 04:21PM    #
  2. Stupid question: remind me how much night ride costs, and how it compares to the cost of a regular cab ride for rides in the service area? Last I checked I seem to remember the prices being relatively close—though I may have been calculating it for 2 people (Night ride, I seem to remember, is always per person, where a regular cab fare is just per trip)
       —Bruce Fields    Aug. 22 '05 - 05:05PM    #
  3. Hm, not sure about the cost – it’s not a service I use often. However, I found this potentially very worrying because of its impact on people who really don’t have any other way to get around after the bus stops running (especially between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti).

    If anybody who uses the service more often than I do is so inclined, going to the hearing will give people a chance to address the AATA Board (the decision-makers on many of these things) as well as the staff. Hearing the impact decisions will have in person can make a big difference…
       —Lisa    Aug. 22 '05 - 05:14PM    #
  4. I think NightRide is $2 or $3 per person. It’s much cheaper than normal cab fare if you’re solo. Depending on how far you’re going, it can be cheaper to get a dedicated cab. To my old place, it was about $5-6 fare to our house from downtown, about 3-4 miles out.
       —Scott Trudeau    Aug. 22 '05 - 06:36PM    #
  5. I imagine if they doubled fares, they’d see usage go down since many more rides would be cheaper by ordering a dedicated taxi (since it’s also more convenient not to share a ride)—but people travelling alone would still probably save money by using the service. I wonder how much they subsidize each ride, on average?
       —Scott Trudeau    Aug. 22 '05 - 06:38PM    #
  6. The Night Ride fare is $3. Seniors & disabled pay $1.50 to take Night Ride. Service is only within Ann Arbor. Ypsilanti and adjacent township residents either pick up Night Ride on the city border or pay full fare to the border and then Night Ride fare. A cash-fare (dedicated) taxi meter starts around $2 to $2.50. Most of us would have to pay $13-16 for our normal ride. All 5 housing co-ops and most public housing, and other cheap housing are located on the city’s outskirts. (In our 5 co-ops, we pay less for a 2-story 2-or-3 bedroom townhouse with full basement than does any resident of the YMCA for a room without bath or cooking facilities.) We cannot afford to live closer to our workplaces.—beni
       —beni    Aug. 23 '05 - 06:20AM    #
  7. That’s disappointing. I relied on Night Ride to get home from school on nights where I stayed until 3 AM, and my home was 4 miles away. I hope the service can continue.
       —KGS    Aug. 23 '05 - 09:23AM    #
  8. My friends and I used to rely on nightride so that we didn’t have to walk home alone late at night when we had walked downtown. Shouldn’t public transportation be expanding if the city wants to encourage people to use public transportation to get around?
       —Anna    Aug. 23 '05 - 09:42AM    #
  9. A friend of mine who lives out on Stone School was grumbling a while back that remaining carless would start to be a lot more difficult “if AATA keeps cutting back evening service”.

    Looks like they listened…
       —Murph.    Aug. 23 '05 - 10:07AM    #
  10. Service is extremely out of control regarding complete lack of any time of curtiousy or respect. It is well known and felt by everyone who is low income, of the lack of funds to the drivers.. They do not care about the people anymore because their main goal now is the money. you can not change this unless you increase their pay check and privilages. You will lose more than you plan on trying to reserve by cutting more services. I will not ride unless I am critically ill. I would rather enjoy my days that I have left, than having each day bashed in by your drivers due to the long time cuts on everything. Your drivers want the riders to pay for the frustration you put upon them. You will see me sooner than you think. smt


       —Sarah Tankson    Oct. 23 '06 - 05:30PM    #