The Grand Rapids Parking Commission approved last week the recommendation to renew its support for the DASH North bus service, which connects the Monroe North neighborhood with downtown.
DASH North began its initial two-year service agreement in 2012 following a request by the Monroe North Business Association. Parking Services, the Downtown Development Authority and Monroe North Tax Increment Financing Authority agreed to provide funding for the program, according to the original agreement.
Those groups initially agreed to spend between $175,000 and $225,000 for the pilot program. The actual cost of the service was $222,798 in 2013 and $177,722 through September 2014.
MNTIFA and the DDA each paid $6,250 monthly for DASH North, with the city of Grand Rapids paying the remainder.
The proposed extension agreement would follow the original funding and service model, with Parking Services agreeing to fund the cost of service up to $80,000 per year.
According to the Parking Commission report, the route has been well received and ridership has continued to grow month over month.
Graphs provided by Parking Services show average daily ridership for September 2014 at just over 140 riders and monthly ridership for September 2014 at just below 3,000 riders. In comparison, average daily ridership in December 2012 was at less than 40 riders and January 2013 total ridership fell below 1,500 riders.
A place for advertising
The only difference in the new two-year agreement is a request to allow advertising on the DASH North buses. The request was made by MNTIFA and the DDA, and advertising would be administered by those two organizations.
Any revenue collected would offset the monthly cost of providing the service, to be shared equally among the three providers.