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Bus ridership up - except in Detroit

Several cities in Michigan saw large increases in bus ridership in the first quarter of this year.

But the state's largest city saw a decline.

Bus ridership on "The Rapid" jumped 12% in the Grand Rapids metro area. 

Spokeswoman Jennifer Kalczuk says more people use the bus when gas prices go up.

But she says The Rapid also has more buses running at night now, and running later at night.  That increase in service began in January, after residents approved a new millage last year.

"Just the evening ridership on our fixed route buses," notes Kalzkuk, "that increase is up over 35%."

Ann Arbor's bus system saw a 9% increase, which officials also attribute to better service.  Ann Arbor Transportation Authority increased the number of buses running on the most heavily-used route, along Washtenaw Avenue.

But in Detroit, bus ridership fell 6%.

That's in contrast to almost every other major U.S. city, where bus ridership grew in the first quarter.

Detroit's system is notorious for buses that don't show up or that break down.

Budget cuts and labor problems are largely responsible for the issues. 

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.