usa today: AATA ridership increase ranks 4th highest in the nation
Ryan J. Stanton | AnnArbor.com
That trails only Indianapolis (20 percent), Fort Myers, Fla. (17 percent), and Charlotte (10 percent), according to figures from the American Public Transportation Association.
The report comes as AATA officials continue to build the case for expanding transit services throughout Washtenaw County. Also ongoing are talks about a regional transit authority linking Ann Arbor with Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.
According to the USA Today report, at least a dozen communities set records for the number of people riding buses, trains and light rail this year. That's partly thanks to high gas prices, a mild winter and, in one city, the Super Bowl. More people returning to work helped, too.
AATA officials said on Monday the authority experienced an all-time first quarter record for total ridership with 1,730,978 trips taken in January through March.
Ridership surpassed the previous record of 1,652,634 trips set in 2009 by 4.7 percent and exceeded 2011’s first quarter ridership by 9 percent.
"This record-breaking ridership reinforces the increasing importance of public transportation in Washtenaw County," AATA CEO Michael Ford said in a statement. "The mild winter certainly helped, but we have also been diligently working to expand and improve our services to meet the needs of those who live, work and visit in Washtenaw County."
Added Ford: "Clearly, people are responding.”
AATA officials clarified the record represents total ridership, which counts the number of trips taken on fixed routes as well as on the NightRide, ExpressRide (service from Chelsea and Canton to Ann Arbor) and ARide services. Ridership increased for those programs by 47, 54 and 3 percent, respectively, compared with the first quarter of 2011.
The AATA also doubled the frequency of service on the popular Route 4 along Washtenaw Avenue at the end of January. As a result, ridership on the route has increased 14 percent as of April this year, AATA officials said on Monday.