Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012
AATA sets single-year ridership record in FY2012 with more than 6.3 million rides
Passenger use marks highest total since record keeping began in 1979
ANN ARBOR – The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA) announced today that a record number of passengers boarded AATA buses during fiscal year 2012, when AATA provided more than 6.3 million rides and generated the highest annual ridership total since the transportation agency introduced local fixed-route service in 1979.
The new milestone represents a nearly 7 percent increase in ridership above the FY2011 level, when AATA recorded 5.9 million rides, and is 3 percent higher than the previous AATA annual ridership record of 6.1 million rides in 2009.
“As more and more people experience the ease, affordability and superior service that AATA offers to our customers, the more they want to keep enjoying the ride on public transportation,” said AATA Chief Executive Officer Michael G. Ford. “To set a new AATA annual record by more than 200,000 rides is truly impressive. This accomplishment reflects that public support for mass transit in Washtenaw County is overwhelming.”
The single-year record comes after AATA garnered national attention for its ridership levels earlier this year. During the first three months of 2012, AATA saw a 9 percent increase in ridership — the fourth-highest gain in the nation, according to a USA Today report. Only Indianapolis, Fort Myers, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., saw bigger increases, according to figures from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).
The long-term growth trend for AATA ridership remains strong, said Chris White, AATA manager of service development. The annual number of riders has increased by more than 50 percent since 2004, while AATA productivity has improved by 43 percent during the past eight years. Most of the AATA ridership growth has been on existing service, White noted.
Weekday FY2012 passenger totals from January through September exceeded last year’s ridership level for nine consecutive months, said White. Nine routes posted record ridership in FY2012, along with the increase over FY2011:
|#10 Ypsilanti Northeast||20.9%|
|#18 Miller – University||20.2%|
|#15 Scio Church – W. Stadium||12.8%|
|# 7 South Main – East||4.6%|
|#17 Amtrak – Depot||3.0%|
|#3 Huron River||1.0%|
AATA’s decision to double the frequency of weekday service on the #4 Washtenaw route has proved especially popular with commuters traveling to work between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. Ridership on the #4 route has increased by 28 percent after AATA launched the expanded service in January 2012.
Ridership on several specialty services also posted unprecedented ridership for FY2012. For example, the ExpressRide route connecting Ann Arbor with Chelsea provided 16,426 rides, a 29 percent increase from FY2011, and ridership on the ExpressRide route between Ann Arbor and Canton totaled 14,071, a 54 percent increase. Productivity rose almost 100 percent on both routes, to 15.8 passengers per service hour for Chelsea and 14.2 for Canton, White added.
In addition, NightRide ridership increased 53 percent, and HolidayRide ridership was up 89 percent in FY2012 vs. FY2011. Special Events service – ArtFairRide and FootballRide – rose 7 percent.
Also, AirRide service, a public/private partnership with Michigan Flyer that runs between Ann Arbor and Detroit Metro Airport, is off to a strong start, providing 24,117 rides since launching April 2.
AATA officials attribute ridership growth to several factors, including fluctuating gas prices, Washtenaw County’s improving economy, a mild winter and ease of accessibility to AATA service – 91 percent of Ann Arbor residents, for example, are within a quarter mile of an AATA route, based on 2010 census data.
An increased commitment to delivering quality service also helps explain the rise in AATA ridership, Ford said. Improved on-time performance is a continuing trend achieved by AATA staff, with 92 percent of trips completed on time year to date during FY2012. The high interior and exterior cleanliness standards of AATA buses remain similarly consistent, with 96 percent of AATA’s fleet meeting or exceeding AATA customer satisfaction standards on a 100-point scale.
“AATA and leaders throughout Washtenaw County are responding to this record demand for transit by developing comprehensive plans to introduce countywide transportation service in 2013,” Ford said. “It is critical to Washtenaw County’s quality of life and future development that we put together the talent and resources to deliver a countywide transit system our entire community can be proud of.”
The surge in popularity for mass transit services in Washtenaw County mirrors national trends. According to APTA, Americans took 10.4 billion trips on public transportation in 2011, the second-highest annual ridership since 1957. Only ridership in 2008, when gas rose to more than $4 a gallon, surpassed last year’s ridership. With an increase of 2.3 percent over the 2010 ridership, this was the sixth year in a row that more than 10 billion trips were taken on public transportation systems nationwide. During 2011, vehicle miles of travel (VMTs) declined by 1.2 percent.
“U.S. public transportation ridership in 2011 is now the second-highest ridership since 1957,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “What is exciting is that the uptick in ridership occurred in large, medium and small communities, showing the broad support that public transportation has nationwide. In fact, the largest rate of growth was in rural communities with populations under 100,000 where public transit use increased by 5.4 percent.
“Two top reasons for the increased ridership are higher gas prices and in certain areas, a recovering economy with more people returning to work,” Melaniphy continued. “Since nearly 60 percent of trips taken on public transportation are for work commutes, it’s not surprising to see ridership increase in areas where the economy has improved.”
The latest information on AATA routes, schedules and detours is available
at 734.996.0400 and on the AATA Routes and Schedules page.