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Posted on Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

New AirRide shuttle service from Ann Arbor to Detroit Metro Airport to start in April

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor residents are expected to have a more affordable and convenient option for getting to Detroit Metropolitan Airport starting in April.

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority's governing board plans to vote Thursday on a contract with the Indian Trails bus company to provide a new airport shuttle service.


Plans call for AirRide buses to pick up passengers at the corner of Fourth Avenue and William Street across from the Blake Transit Center downtown and at a stop near the Briarwood Mall near Interstate 94 on Ann Arbor's south side.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The service, which is being called AirRide, would provide 12 daily roundtrips from Ann Arbor to the airport and would be operated by Michigan Flyer, a subsidiary of Indian Trails.

"Throughout the transit master plan development process, we were told by residents that they needed a convenient, affordable and reliable way to get to the airport," AATA CEO Michael Ford said in a statement. "Partnering with Michigan Flyer could help us fill that need."

Tickets are expected to be offered at an introductory rate of $10 for a one-way trip. The regular adult fare would be $12 with a reservation or $15 without a reservation.

The standard price for roundtrips would be $22.

Discounts would be offered for seniors, the disabled and children. Volume discounts also may be available for groups of up to eight individuals when traveling together.

AATA plans to contract with Indian Trails for two years at a cost of $2.56 per service mile. The total cost is not to exceed $700,000 per year without the consent of AATA's board.

Under the public-private partnership, Indian Trails would retain the first $250,000 of fares collected each year of the contract. Fares collected in excess of $250,000 each year would be used to offset the cost to AATA of the AirRide services provided by Indian Trails.

Michigan Flyer currently operates eight roundtrips between Ann Arbor and the airport for $15 one-way. The AirRide partnership would offer four additional trips at reduced fares.

Additionally, a proposed partnership with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority would allow for parking at the Fourth and William parking structure for just $2 per trip, with a two week maximum stay, according to AATA officials.


AATA's governing board is voting on these proposed fares for AirRide on Thursday.

Noting that Gov. Rick Snyder has made increased public transportation collaboration in Southeast Michigan a priority, AATA officials said the new service further demonstrates AATA's commitment to providing regional transportation solutions.

The new partnership improves regional transportation options by connecting the Ann Arbor transit system with the SMART bus system for Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties, said Gordon Mackay, president of Indian Trails, the parent company of Michigan Flyer.

Plans call for AirRide buses to pick up passengers at the corner of Fourth Avenue and William Street across from the Blake Transit Center downtown and at a stop near the Briarwood Mall near Interstate 94 on Ann Arbor's south side.

At Detroit Metro Airport, the AirRide buses would drop off and pick up passengers at the International Arrival level of the McNamara Terminal, and at the Ground Transportation Center at the North Terminal.

New low-emissions Michigan Flyer buses offering free wireless Internet and restroom amenities are expected to be used for all trips.

AATA also is engaged in discussions with the Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors Bureau and the University of Michigan to assist with promotional support for the new service.

Ford said there still are some operational details to be worked out, but the convenience and affordability of the service would be a win for the entire region.

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Sat, Feb 18, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

Seems like a misguided headline. This is not a new service; it is an expansion and taxpayer subsidy for an existing service. No discussion of the rationale: Seems unlikely that price of the existing service is a big problem, given the alternatives, such as airport parking. Maybe this is all about AATA paying to get its name on something, not about cost effective transit (that is already operating).


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 11:34 p.m.

Wow -- lots of whiners and complainers that are just out of touch -- really no need to comment on something you don't understand if you don't use the service. First, I would venture to say that very few "families" would use this service, nor will students (they already have their own cheaper shuttle service to the airport) will mostly be a lot of single business people who would otherwise drive themselves to the airport and spend 20.00 a day to park their cars there. Second, this is a much needed service: any modern city needs frequent and inexpensive transportation to the airport. Third, yes it IS geared to Ann Arbor, not Ypsi or other outlying areas -- unless they of course drive into Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor is a business destination for a lot of people. Fourth, details have not yet been announced. If you don't know what they are, then don't comment and whine about why you think it's not a good idea. You have no idea. Don't comment.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

I think this is great and am really looking forward to the day the service starts. It's long overdue.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:27 p.m.

This is great news!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

For all you people saying that Ypsi can't take advantage of this, what would be to stop someone in Ypsi from taking the bus to Ann Arbor? Last I checked, that route service was still available. Most people in Ann Arbor don't live within easy walking distance of the bus station, so they would be in the same position of having to get a ride or take the bus to the Ann Arbor depot.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:40 p.m.



Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

Many commenters may not know that UM's student government sponsors a non-profit airport shuttle service from Central Campus. It's quite limited in scope: only students can buy tickets (though they can bring up to 3 guests), only operates for a few days before and after University holidays, only one-way at a time (to the airport at the start of breaks, from the airport at the end), and only picks up at a few locations on campus. It is a few dollars less than this service will be. I mention it to point out that students have another, cheaper, option, and may not swamp the AATA service as much as you might think.

cornelius McDougenschniefferburgenstein jr. 3 esq.

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 4:48 p.m.

its called airbus.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

I meant to include this link to more information: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:56 p.m.

This so called &quot;much needed service&quot; already exists. &quot;Michigan Flyer currently operates eight roundtrips between Ann Arbor and the airport for $15 one-way.&quot; So if your family &quot;will use it&quot; and can already afford to purchase airline tickets, why do I have to help subsidize the cost of the bus trip to the airport AND your parking downtown Ann Arbor? I guess you can use that extra savings to spend a little more in Florida or where ever your family is headed this winter.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:38 p.m.

Florida would be the last place I would go if I could afford to go away every winter. As this is a partnership _with_ the Michigan Flyer, they know what they're getting into. Also, this is a bit lower in price and offers discounts for certain groups, and is more convenient as you can reach it without having to drive to the Ann Arbor Sheraton or taking two buses to get there while you're schlepping your luggage. Let's give this new service a try before we start griping about all kinds of irrelevancies. I am excited and ready to board.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 7:24 p.m.

No, my point is, why do you choose to live in a place where the majority clearly values pooling our resources to support superior services and an excellent quality of life for everyone in our city, when that does not seem to be what you value?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

Great answer to my question.... I guess I am not entitled to live here unless I am willing to help pay for your family vacations and never question our local leadership. Numerous people have been questioning Ann Arbor's leadership for some time just like numerous people have been questioning the state's leadership. So if it's whining and complaining to question the local government what do you call it when questioning the state government?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:54 p.m.

Why do you live here?


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

There are already a dozen local van companies that run to the airport. Most offer prices in the $18 to $25 range each way. No fuss, no muss, door to door service. So AATA wants to put local people out of a job for an out of state bus company, and lose more money while doing it, by subsidizing fares. Great use of local tax dollars.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:33 p.m.

What &quot;out-of-state bus company&quot; are you talking about? Michigan Flyer is out of East Lansing. Despite that fact, you get nonstop, direct service from Ann Arbor-DTW-Ann Arbor as it's the last stop before the airport and the first from it. Also, the door-to-door service companies are a heck of a lot more expensive than Michigan Flyer is right now and even more so with the new partnership rates. Oh, and for those carping about this new service being a boon to &quot;rich&quot; students, there already is a $7 bus service offered to UM students, which is why I've seen so few students, rich or poor, ride the Flyer. As a matter of fact, it's been mostly individuals and families.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

Custom Transit offers round trip, door-to-door services for $63. That's for 1 person. The per person rate drops from there if there are multiple people in your party. I've used them several times and have always been very satisfied.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

I agree with the above posters. The vans are $39. I've used them quite a few times, and you're usually not getting door-to-door service. They lump a bunch of people together with similar trip schedules. I stopped using them when twice I nearly missed my flight because we had lots of delays either finding the address of a person to be picked up, or the van just came later than the appointed time.

Peter Baker

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 3:18 p.m.

The vans are $39, I've used them a lot, and welcome a cheaper downtown alternative. But when I'm looking for door-to-door service on a tight schedule, the van service will do nicely. These are good options to have.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

The Michigan Flyer doesn't do &quot;door-to-door&quot; service. I think Don Bee isn't current on costs for that type of shuttle service.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

From the article: &quot;Michigan Flyer currently operates eight roundtrips between Ann Arbor and the airport for $15 one-way.&quot;

Ed Kimball

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:21 p.m.

Do you have names and contact information for these van companies? A quick Internet search didn't find anything cheaper than $39 one way.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:45 p.m.

At one time the airport authority was going to charge AATA to allow them to run transit to Metro. Is this still the case? If the taxpayer is being asked to pay a fee to the airport authority this is a nonstarter. It is not appropriate to subsidize corruption.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 8:51 p.m.

Yes, the airport does indeed get a fee for each bus that arrives there.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 1:36 p.m.

Wow, you people are certainly true to form. Complaining that it's not in Ypsi. Complaining that it IS in Ann Arbor. Complaining that the parking is too cheap (!!!!). Aren't you the same person that complains about parking being too expensive? Do posters here just keep refreshing their screens, waiting for stuff to complain about? Anyway, thank you AATA. This is a much needed service, and I know my family will use it.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:09 p.m.

It's a much already-available service. The only thing new is that it will now be subsidized by AA taxpayers.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

Take the time to read all my prior blogs before accusing me of saying something I never said. I have actually defended the DDA and their rates. How else could last year's budget been balanced without the $1- $2 million in parking revenues collected. I am impressed that the DDA actually created revenue for the city whereas the AATA is continuing to increase operating costs well beyond their budget limits.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

&quot;Additionally, a proposed partnership with the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority would allow for parking at the Fourth and William parking structure for just $2 per trip, with a two week maximum stay, according to AATA officials.&quot; So in addition to subsidizing bus service to the airport, we are basically offering FREE PARKING at a prime downtown location. I thought the goal of the AATA was to reduce car trips to the downtown area? This setup will encourage more car trips to the downtown area and give away prime parking spaces. Heck, students who don't use their cars that often, just found a nice place to park and leave their cars for two weeks for only .85 cents a day ($10 bus ticket + $2 parking fee / 14 days). Another brillant idea coming from this NON-ELECTED board!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

I'm sure the $2 parking comes with the $12 ticket purchase. So, for 2 weeks the cost would be at least $14, which is less expensive than a daily, but not the simple $2 that your posting suggests. (Chances are it will be $2 if you buy a round trip, which would be $22-$30 then) Let's wait until the details come out.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

I'm not sure I understand this. Michigan Flyer has been quietly providing this service and now AATA is contracting with Michigan Flyer for it. The subsidy from AATA seems to be providing a pick-up at Blake as opposed to the hotel outpost near Briarwood. That seems to be a pretty steep price as cheap parking was available at the hotel outpost ($2 a day). Still, AATA is much better off subsidizing an existing business than starting its own visionary plans: Ann Arbor to Manchester and other outlying Washtenaw County routes.

Dave Lehman

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 11:33 a.m.

So, AATA, which I used every day when I lived in Ann Arbor, won't come within miles of my 500-unit complex in Ypsi Township, AND wants my tax dollars to support sending rich college kids home to New York for the holidays. Nice!


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

Rich college kids? How can that be? Most are not working, most are using scholarships or loans to finance their education, and most are relying on their families for assistance. What's this hating on kids trying to better their lives by going to college and preparing for a future career? How sad.


Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

I've ridden the Michigan Flyer since its inception a few years ago and it certainly appears to me that most of the riders are neither students nor necessarily rich. I'm not. And, I'm very happy that this service has finally arrived.

Rabid Wolverine

Wed, Feb 15, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

Are you still in the Ann Arbor township perimeter or fo you have an ypsilanti address? If you do not have a AA address you really have no compaint about AA buses not willing to go to Ypsi to pick you up. I live within AA, yet the AATA does not come out to me. I have to use a secondary privatized busing system to get to the closest AATA bus stop. Also, not sure how you are being taxed by AA if you live in Ypsi....