TheRide, Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti’s public transportation system, is set to receive $2.1 million in federal funding from the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), allowing for more connections between the two cities.
This funding will cover three years of operating costs for a new express bus service route along Washtenaw Avenue, scheduled to begin service in the fall of 2024.
“The Washtenaw Avenue Express Bus will be a limited-stop service that operates on the Washtenaw Ave corridor, similar to the current Route 4 routing. We are aiming to start the service at a frequency of every 30 minutes with approximately 6 stops, which includes the transit centers at both ends," Gretchen Johnson, Senior Project Manager, Planning & Innovation at TheRide, said.
The new route would run in addition to the current Route 4, creating more frequent transportation and cutting the eight-minute wait by a few minutes.
Initial estimates show that this limited stop service will take approximately an hour to complete a full round-trip between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. However, this will also vary based on the day of the week and time of day. TheRide plans to monitor the traffic of the new express bus once service begins.
The new express bus service will also allow for reduced carbon admissions into the air because of being more efficient with time spent on the roads.
The federal government has awarded the State of Michigan money for its carbon reduction program success. SEMCOG has received around $9.6 million in funding from the state government. The funds have been allocated to individual companies in a competitive process.
“The Carbon Reduction Program established through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2021, allocates funds to states and metro areas to fund projects that reduce emissions,“ Johnson said. "SEMCOG called for transit agencies within the region to submit projects that would have a positive impact on carbon reduction. As an already congested corridor, the service has the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 1,057 kilograms per day, the equivalent emissions of about 84 typical cars on the road every day.”
The council of governments is in charge of planning and implementing transportation routes.
The new express bus service is expected to attract everyone from work commuters to students, people going to medical appointments, shopping, and recreation.
“Providing more affordable mobility options for people also gives them more choice and freedom of movement; this service will provide a fast, well-connected core route for riders to reach our entire service area, other transportation modes, and a variety of destinations,” Johnson said.
TheRide estimates that it can service around 230,000 riders in the first year of this new express route. Route updates and other information are provided on TheRide website.