The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (aka TheRide) hosts 18,000 riders every day. This number will increase significantly wih expanded services starting May 1, including new routes, and a streamlined numbering system, the beginning of TheRide’s five-year improvement plan.
TheRide’s Richard Chivers has been getting people around town for 39 years — almost since the service was chartered in 1969. Looking forward to the impending service improvements, we spoke to Chivers about his myriad experiences.
Current: What route do you drive?
Richard Chivers: I primarily used to drive routes 2, 4, and 5. Currently, I’m on what’s called the Extra Board, where I’m utilized on whichever route or service has a need, including A-Ride service for seniors and riders with disabilities. People ask me which I prefer: knowing the route I’ll be driving each day, or not knowing until I arrive at work. I actually enjoy both. For me, it’s not as much about which route I drive, as it is getting to meet and help people.
What’s the best part of your job?
Truly, I enjoy getting to meet so many people who ride with us each day, helping new drivers get accustomed to driving on various routes, and working in this great community with our dedicated, fun, and hard-working staff.
What can community members do to make TheRide a better experience for everyone?
Spread the word about our services. We have regular fixed-route buses, A-Ride buses for seniors and people with disabilities, ArtFairRide shuttles, FootballRide shuttles, AirRide service between Ann Arbor and Metro Airport, NightRide and HolidayRide service when fixed-route doesn’t run, VanRide commuter vanpool service, and more. The more people that use our services, the more we’re able to help our community become more sustainable, free of congestion, and happier and healthier. Making TheRide top-of-mind for people is a great way to help the community.
What’s one “DO NOT DO” that you wish riders were aware of?
I think we do a good job helping people learn how to ride our buses, both in literature on the bus and online. But, I do wish that riders were more aware that, at times, it can be difficult to see them. When waiting for the bus, signaling and being clearly visible to an approaching bus while standing safely away from the street is a big help. Riders who wear dark clothing and stand further back near trees, bushes, or utility poles can be very difficult to see, especially at night. If reflective clothing isn’t an option, riders who wear lighter clothing, and/or stand closer to the bus stop area can be a big help in making sure that drivers don’t miss them. I’m very disappointed when I learn that I’ve missed someone who was waiting for my bus. Helping me by being seen can ensure that I can help them get where they need to go.
Also, while drivers work hard to keep riders safe and on schedule, we can be delayed by many things that are out of our control. One thing that often takes extra time is waiting for passengers who are not ready with their fares or passes. Having exact change or passes ready when boarding a bus helps keep everything (and everyone) running on schedule. It’s a great way to help not just your drivers, but everyone who you’re riding with.
Strangest thing you’ve ever seen on the bus?
I’ve been lucky in my nearly 39 years not to have seen too many strange things. The strangest incident that I can think of involves a duck. A handful of years ago, I noticed a baby duck sitting in the middle of the road. It was near a stop, so I was able to safely pull over and help it. The duck’s family was standing a bit further up the road watching, seemingly wondering why the baby duck wasn’t keeping up. The duckling was able to keep up once it was rejoined with its family on softer ground. It was one of those moments when you look back and smile. I really enjoy helping so many wonderful people each day, and I guess I enjoy helping ducks, too.
See TheRides entire five year improvement plan at theride.org