Over 1,000 passengers a week head to Detroit Metro Airport from Ann Arbor using the AirRide bus shuttle. It's been nearly a month since the pick-up and drop-off location at the airport changed from the International Arrivals curb to the Ground Transportation Center. The debate over which location is more appropriate continues.
Carolyn Grawi used AirRide several times and found it safe and convenient for people with a variety of disabilities. She's legally blind and the Interim President and CEO of the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living. Grawi's now hesitant to use the service the next time she flies. Her concerns include too many vehicles at the new drop off site, its distance from the terminal, and it not being accessible for all passengers. "When people look at what they're going to do for persons with disabilities and seniors, when we make it accessible for patrons who are more vulnerable, it makes it even safer for the rest of us," Grawi says.
A federal lawsuit accuses the Wayne County Airport Authority of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act at the new stop. Airport representatives won't discuss the lawsuit, but say safety issues made the switch necessary.
Director of Public Affairs Michael Conway says increases in international travel and the number of people using AirRide led to passengers getting off the bus and crossing multiple lanes of traffic. "It's a little bit less convenient cause it's further away from the door then they were before, but it wasn't safe. We're basically putting these motor coaches in the same area where all the other ground transportation is," Conway says.
Conway says the new location doesn't have curbs and is accessible for people with wheelchairs or walkers. Several heated shelters are available for passengers to wait in until the bus arrives.
A hearing on the lawsuit is scheduled Friday.