Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

U-M and AATA to Launch "Unlimited Access" Program

22. July 2004 • Brian Kerr
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On August 1, 2004, the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) will be launching a swell “Unlimited Access” program.

From a ‘facts sheet’ given to the Arbor Update Gaggle by an anonymous tipster:

Under this contract, AATA will provide no-charge rides on all of its regularly scheduled routes at any time of the day, any day of the week to all active U-M faculty, staff and students who show a valid Mcard ID. In addition, AATA will add at least 8,000 hours of service, tailored to the needs of the University, starting January 2005. These service improvements will be guided by student and employee residential demographics, and input from the University community.

It’s my understanding that this program will be officially announced on Monday, July 26, 2004. Accords to the facts sheet, “marketing and promotional efforts” are in the works, as is a “survey of participating and non-participating U-M students, staff and faculty during the fall semester to gauge customer acceptance.”

We’ll publish more details on this site as they become available. (Anonymous tipster: if you’re reading this, you have our thanks!)

  1. woo hoo! anything for better bus service.
       —Edward Vielmetti    Jul. 22 '04 - 09:31PM    #
  2. This is great! And only four years or so after it was proposed…

    I’m curious as to how this will affect the transportation subsidies offered university staff. Now that one of the options (a free AATA pass) is worth $0 to a staff member, will all of those staffers opt for the next option up (a free Orange Lot pass), increasing demand on Orange Lots? Or will Orange Lot passes stop being subsidized (they’re only $60/year, anyways), and the staff cost of Blue Lot passes increased similarly?

    It’s just an implementation detail (and hardly enough to take the blush off the rose) but worth wondering about.
       —Murph    Jul. 23 '04 - 11:46AM    #
  3. Murph,
    I was wondering the same thing since I just turned in my Blue pass for a bus pass last week… the bus pass was already free to staff if you don’t have a parking permit, so I suspect this may simply encourage folks to try the bus but allow them to hold on to their parking pass “just in case”—and may result in a softening of parking demand (though I’d expect this to be only slight, unless AATA expands their service significantly).

    I also wonder what affect this will have on U and AATA driver jobs. When this was first proposed, the student drivers were worried they’d be the first ones axed, since student temp workers are the easiest to “trim” and only the full-time drivers were represented by AFSCME (a gov’t workers union). AFT-MFT (GEO/LEO are also affiliates) got cards for the student drivers but I’m never sure what happened to that campaign—I don’t think it ever resulted in a recognized bargaining unit.

    Overall, this seems like a sensible thing. Let’s hope they do a good job managing the transition.
       —Scott Trudeau    Jul. 23 '04 - 02:09PM    #
  4. As far as I can tell, this won’t result in any kind of consolidation of UM’s blue buses and AATA—it’ll just open AATA to M-Card holders. UM’s buses will still provide more concentrated service to campus, but AATA will be added for those who live further out.

    That’s what sank it the first time around—opening AATA got shackled to the idea of consolidation, and worry about the drivers’ jobs killed the idea.
       —Murph    Jul. 23 '04 - 03:38PM    #
  5. This is great—I see this as having a great effect on AATA ridership, as students are often broke and/or cheap, and bus fare adds up in the long run. ...No more walking an extra 5 blocks to the UM bus to save money. Nice.
       —Brandon    Jul. 26 '04 - 12:03AM    #
  6. There’s a story in today’s Ann Arbor News about a proposal by Ypsi city government to cut Ypsi bus routes, and a reaction on ypsidixit. Worthy of a headline on Arbor Update.

       —Edward Vielmetti    Feb. 17 '06 - 03:03AM    #