Monday, April 21, 2008

Speaking of traffic.. and gas prices, too

Talking about traffic and parking in Chelsea can provide many hours of entertainment -- er, that is if you are the sort of person who enjoys heated discussions. And the traffic, gas prices and road conditions in the rest of the state of Michigan are just as fun (I should use "air quotes" on the word fun, shouldn't I?) Kidding aside, ours are small complaints in a town that honestly doesn't have much to complain about in the whole scheme of things.

Michigan Road Construction Updates
Today, I read a press release from the State of Michigan that announced an updated area of their website which provides construction updates, maps, links to gas prices and more. The updates seems fairly useful and user-friendly. And honestly, this seems like a pretty good use of our tax dollars (for once). Here is the link:
Chelsea to Ann Arbor Commuter Bus Begins May 15
AATA is starting a new commuter bus from Chelsea to Ann Arbor on May 15. Rides will start in Chelsea at the Arctic Coliseum, and end in various places in downtown Ann Arbor.
According to the website: "The service will be made available to commuters on a prepaid, monthly basis. AATA’s board of directors has set an introductory monthly fare of $125." Unlike the regular pay-as-you-go AATA routes, a limited number of monthly tickets will be available, which reserves your seat for that time period.

Is this a cost savings?
According to the Ann Arbor News article about the A2-Chelsea route, here are some calculations for commuting from Chelsea to Ann Arbor:
  • [From the A2 News]
    Commuter bus from Chelsea:
    Monthly pass $125; cost at 21.25 days per month: $5.88.
    Private vehicle from Chelsea: Gas and vehicle costs @ 50.5 cents per mile* x 32 miles: $16.16. Daily parking cost at $125 per month** at 21.25 days per month: $5.88. Total daily cost: $22.04.
    (Notes: *Internal Revenue Service business mileage allowance for 2008.**Cost of monthly parking permit in a city of Ann Arbor parking structure.)"
For our family, these numbers don't compute. For one thing, hubbie works in the State Street area and doesn't pay for parking. For another thing, even with the best intentions, there are going to be days when the bus isn't practical. Such as those when there are late meetings, doctors appointments or kids' soccer games. My estimate is that the bus would be useful more like 15 days a month. So, for us, a much "greener" and economical option is to share a ride with a neighbor once or twice a week. There is a 20% savings right there.

I'm curious what other Ann Arbor commuters who live in Chelsea think about this bus service, and how well it will be used. What do you think?


Sarah said...

I am fortunate in that I own a vehicle that routinely gets 45-48 mpg fuel economy (it's a diesel VW Jetta, fyi). I can squeeze up to 600 miles out of every tank of diesel. I, too, work in the State St corridor and our parking is free and ample. I fill up with fuel approximately once every week to 10 days and sometimes once every two weeks if all I do is my commute five days a week (38 miles round trip). A fill-up costs me about $50 right now since diesel is more expensive than gasoline. So I spend about $100-$200 per month on diesel. If a monthly pass for the Chelsea route is $125, I might save money and I might also spend more. As far as I'm concerned, the convenience of having transportation in the form of my car right there all the time far outweighs the $75 I might save per month if I chose to start taking the bus. If I still had my old car, which was a gas-guzzling SUV that sucked up $300-$400 per month in gas, then the bus would be a much more attractive option, but with the car I have now, it's just not as important.

Additionally, as you said, there are just too many variables in one's daily routine to be confined by a bus schedule.

If I want to save some money every month, I can make myself stop buying cute summer running clothes!

arammai said...

I was excited to hear that a bus route was opening up between Chelsea and A2. I work in the Kerrytown area downtown and have to pay for parking. But after looking at the schedule there's no way it will work for me. The bus schedule is extremely limited and excludes those who work 9-5 business hours. Having the last bus leave A2 at 5:15 is way too risky to miss. I can see calling hubby several times a week to come get me! :) I also think that only offering the monthly pass is too limiting, as I wouldn't want to take the bus every day.

I wrote an email to AATA about these limitations. They thanked me for my feedback and assured me that for now, they will stick with the plan.

I worry that this pilot plan will not be successful and then taken as "the people of Chelsea don't want a bus." Which I believe is opposite the case.

Thanks for the vent space!