Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

U-M and AATA renew MRide program for faculty, staff and students

U-M and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (TheRide) have agreed to a five-year extension for the MRide program, which will allow the university community to continue riding on all AATA fixed-route buses at no cost.


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U-M Parking and Transportation Services

MRide allows active U-M faculty, staff and students to swipe their valid yellow Mcard ID and ride TheRide’s fixed-route service without charge. Campus ridership on the MRide program has steadily increased since its inception in August 2004, with nearly 2.5 million riders using the service in fiscal year 2010.

“I am very pleased that renewal of the MRide agreement is complete,” says Steve Dolen, executive director of Parking and Transportation Services. “It is a continuation of a great partnership between TheRide and the university to provide transportation alternatives for our faculty, staff and students.”

The agreement also continues to provide the campus community with other programs and services from TheRide, such as Park & Ride lots and the A2 Express service fare subsidy. The contract is comprehensive enough to incorporate any future programs or services that may be developed by TheRide, including expanded bus routes or additional bus stops.

Dolen adds, “Renewal of the MRide contract is part of the university’s Parking & Transportation Services strategy, which focuses on providing alternative transportation options in an effort to reduce the number of vehicles traveling to and from U-M and lessen the parking demand on campus.”

U-M and TheRide have a long history of cooperation and partnering in delivering high-quality bus service to the Ann Arbor community. The most recent example of this partnership is the development of the Central Campus Transit Center. The center provides shelters for bus riders, bicycle lanes along North University Avenue, bicycle racks, an improved pedestrian walkway across North University and a new handicapped-accessible entry to the Alexander G. Ruthven Museums Building. U-M and TheRide passengers use the facility.

“The renewal of the MRide agreement continues a great program that has proven to benefit the whole community. Since its inception, MRide has allowed university riders to enjoy expanded bus service, reduced environmental emissions, reduced costs for parking and travel, and increased access to housing and the whole community. As a result of the MRide program, non-university riders throughout the community have also received these benefits," says TheRide CEO Michael Ford.

“Over the next five years, we look forward to the continuing success of the MRide program through increased and continued transit use by U-M faculty, staff and students,” Ford adds.

Before the MRide program was put in place, university students and employees comprised about 32 percent of ridership on TheRide. Since then, the number of U-M rides has increased by 72 percent and now comprise 40 percent of the total ridership on TheRide. During this same time period, use of TheRide by non-U-M riders also increased.

The U-M bus system also continues to experience an increase in ridership, with 6.5 million passengers using the campus fleet in FY 2010. This is an increase of 25 percent since 2004, and reflects the continued use by the campus community of the university’s alternative transportation systems.