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MRide

Active University of Michigan-Ann Arbor students, faculty and staff are able to ride AATA fixed-route bus service (external link) without paying a fare. This benefit is a result of a five-year agreement between U-M and AATA, valued at $1.8 million annually.

The historic agreement was reached after many years of cooperation between the University and AATA, followed by nearly a year of discussions, planning and negotiations. The negotiating team included representatives from AATA management, U-M management and an AFSCME union steward who is also a U-M transit coach operator.

Terms

Under this contract, AATA permits all active U-M faculty, staff and students to ride on all of its regularly scheduled fixed-route buses at any time of day, any day of the week without paying a fare. U-M passengers simply will show a valid Mcard ID (yellow card) to access the AATA's Mride Program.

The five-year contract is valued at approximately $1.8 million per year. The bulk of the contract, approximately $1.1 million per year, will be provided by the federal funds earned by U-M transit operations. U-M will continue to pay $700,000.

Benefits

The unlimited access service, named "AATA's Mride Program," provides many benefits to the University and the surrounding community, including:

  • Reduced parking demand, both on campus and in nearby municipal lots and streets, by providing another major transportation option for employees and students.
  • A new no-cost transportation option for students to access retail and entertainment venues.
  • Leverage of significant federal dollars to provide additional transportation service to the U-M community.
  • Reduced traffic volume on local streets and highways.
  • Reduced vehicular traffic will result in reduced air and noise pollution.
  • Increased ridership on AATA buses (means increased federal funding and better utilization of existing resources).
  • Improved service levels (increased frequency and added service hours) in 2005 will be available to U-M employees and students, as well as to the general public.

Background

In 1999, the University began participating in the National Transit Database (NTD) project by submitting passenger data and financial summaries for its internal bus operation. As a result of our participation, additional federal funds through the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) started to become available to the region beginning in 2003.

The University had three contractual arrangements with AATA and paid approximately $700,000 for these services in FY2004. These contracts were for 1) free AATA bus passes for any employee who opts out of the University parking program, 2) free rides on AATA buses from all Park & Ride lots for all students and employees, and 3) improved frequency and hours of service on AATA route 36, serving Wolverine Tower and the State Street Park & Ride lot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What exactly is the unlimited access agreement?
A.
The University has contracted with the AATA to permit all active U-M faculty, staff and students to ride on all AATA regular fixed route buses without paying a fare.

Q. Will all Mcard IDs be valid for this service?
A.
No. Mcards are sometimes issued to vendors, contractors and certain visitors. Only active UM faculty, staff and students can participate - those with a yellow card. In addition, when students or employees leave the University, their Mcard ID is no longer considered valid.

Q. What about retirees and emeritus professors?
A.
Emeritus professors and retirees who have a continuing relationship with the University are issued Mcard IDs that will be valid for Unlimited Access privileges.

Q. Are part-time students and temporary employees included?
A.
Yes.

Q. How do I find out if AATA bus routes will work for me?
A.
AATA services are contained on their web site: www.theride.org (external link) and also are available on hard copy (The Ride Guide) at over 250 community locations, including 44 campus sites, and at their offices on South Industrial or at the Blake Transit Center.

Q. Can I only ride the bus to and from work or school?
A.
You can ride any day of the week, any time of day on all fixed-route service.

Q. What do I have to do to ride for free? Do I need a bus pass?
A.
No, you don't need a bus pass. Just show your valid Mcard ID when you board the bus.

Q. It's only good on fixed route service. What services are excluded?
A.
Special services such as Night Ride, A-Ride, Senior Taxi Service, Football Ride, Art Fair Shuttles and Commencement Shuttle are excluded from this agreement.

Q. Is U-M bus service reduced because of this agreement?
A.
No. The two bus systems are complementary. U-M's buses continue to serve an essential role in transporting passengers between campuses and within the campus. AATA's role is to provide service to the entire community, including to and from the campus area.

Q. Will any AATA services be improved as a result of this agreement?
A.
Yes. AATA already provides a significant amount of service to and from campus. However, beginning in January 2005, AATA began providing additional service tailored to meet specific needs of the University.

Q. How is this being funded? Will I see an increase in my student fees or parking fees?
A.
The University currently pays about $700,000 annually for AATA services. That amount remains the same, so there will be no increase in student fees or parking fees due to this program. The remaining portion of the $1.8 million annual contract will be paid with federal funds available to the University because of our participation in the Federal Transit Administration's National Transit Database.

Q. How will the University benefit from this agreement?
A.
The University and the Ann Arbor community will benefit in several ways:

  • Reduced parking demand, both on campus and in nearby city lots and streets, by providing another major transportation option for employees and students.
  • Reduced traffic volume on local streets and highways.
  • A new no-cost transportation option for students to access retail and entertainment venues.
  • Reduced vehicular traffic will result in reduced air and noise pollution.
  • Improved service levels (increased frequency and added service hours) in 2005 will be available to U-M employees and students, as well as to the general public.
  • Leverage of significant federal dollars to provide additional transportation service to the U-M community.
  • Increased ridership on AATA buses (means increased federal funding and better utilization of existing resources).