Based on numbers from the National Transit Database, ridership on Ann Arbor Area Transportation fixed route buses was down 1.8 percent in 2015 compared to the year before. Ridership recovered in 2016 to match roughly the 2014 total, and showed another increase (3.7 percent) in 2017.
The general increase over the last three and a half years comes in the context of new tax, approved by voters in spring 2014. The new tax—it’s levied in addition to a perpetual one that was previously on the books—funded several increases in service. The service increases included the addition of several routes and higher frequency of some existing routes.
The first full year for some of the increase in routes and frequency came in 2015. And the increase in service is reflected in the Urban Integrated National Transit Database maintained by the Florida Transit Information System. Revenue miles driven for the most three years available in the database are shown as: 2,619,838 miles (2014); 2,694,741 miles (2015); and 3,026,342 miles (2016). [Ridership numbers available in the FTIS database are more recent than revenue miles and hours data.]
Revenue hours show a sequence that’s similar to revenue miles: 202,455 hours (2014); 219,123 miles (2015); 246,278 miles (2016).
Measured in revenue miles, the amount of service provided by the AAATA increased by 8 percent from 2014 to 2015 and by another 12 percent from 2015 to 2016. So percentage increases in service did not translate into similar increases in ridership. (Ridership decreased by 1.8 percent from 2014 to 2015, then increased 1.8 percent from 2014 to 2015.)
Some of the discussion as a part of the millage campaign of 2014 included the idea that service increases might not necessarily attract additional riders, but would provide more convenience and options for existing riders.
Ridership on AAATA buses shows a seasonal trend, related to the academic calendar of the University of Michigan:
Through the first six months of 2018, the month-to-month numbers are mixed. In three of the months, ridership was slightly greater than last year. In three of the months, it was lower. Overall, in the first six months of 2018, AAATA ridership is up 0.3 percent compared to 2017—3,257,889 rides in 2018 compared to 3,247,097 in 2017.