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Late-Night Shared-Ride Taxi Transit in Ann Arbor, MI
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Late-Night Shared-Ride Taxi Transit in Ann Arbor, MI
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    The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority introduced Night Ride, a late-night shared-ride taxi transit service, in mid-March 1982. The service was provided through a contract with a local taxicab company and funded through a demonstration grant from the Urban Mass Transportation Administration. Although the demonstration ended in December 1983, and authority decided to continue operating the service with local funding. Night Ride was initiated when community groups requested extension of Ann Arbor's evening dial-a-ride service to provide safe door-to-door transportation at night. The transit authority proposed the shared-ride taxi concept as a lower cost alternative since extension of dial-a-ride service hours was not viewed as feasible. The authority chose to contract for dedicated vehicles in order to fix the amount of the expenditure. To maximize ridership and make the service easy to use, cash fares were collected and retained by the operator. The fares helped to create an incentive for the operator to maximize productivity. Night Ride was a successful service in terms of ridership, cost and community acceptance. Ridership grew to 2339 passengers per month by the end of the demonstration, and the productivity reached a maximum monthly average of 4.2 passengers per vehicle hour. Although Night Ride was aimed at improving safety, most riders used it for other reasons, citing its low fare of $1.50. Many were occasional users and usually has automobiles available for their nighttime trips. About 35% of the riders were male, which raised questions for some female riders as to the service's ability to insure safe transportation. However, it was not a major issue since many of the trips were work trips and very few riders reported traveling to or form barts. Riders and community groups were plased with the service, despite the fact that wait times were rather long--averaging about 17-25 minutes, but sometimes over one hour. The cost of service to the authority on a per passenger basis was estimated at $2.15 excluding start-up costs, compared with $4.79 for evening and Sunday dial-a-ride and $1.27 for daytime fixed route service. The user share of Night Ride's operating cost was 43%, much higher than those of the other AATA services. The evaluation report concludes that, despite some site-specific factors, services like Night Ride should succeed in other communities with similar levels of nighttime demand.

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