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Ride A Mercedes--for Two Bits

Ride A Mercedes--for Two Bits image
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"Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz, "My friends all drive Porches "I must make amends. "Worked hard all my Ufe - no help from my friends. "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz." Even the late singer Janis Joplin, who penned those words as a sort of tongue in cheek comment about living in the material world, wouldn't have had too much to say about a Mercedes-Benz ride for a quarter. And that's the opportunity Ann Arbor residents have beginning today when a 16-passenger Mercedes-Benz bus became a part of the Dial-A-Ride fleet. Whíle it taay sqífad sbii exWagant - takes a lot of quarters to payfor the $23,000 vehicle - the six-month lease on the bus is actually an experiment to find out what kind of bus will be the most economical for use in Dial-A-Ride. Mercedes, of course, is a luxury car - and the bus the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority is leasing for $400 per month costs more than twice as much to purchase as the Ford and Dodge vans in the present Dial-A-Ride fleet. But initial expense in buying the vehicle is not the only thing the authority is considering - and it is there that the authority wants to see if the initially expensive Mercedes will give better service in the care and maintenance department. James Robinson, operations supervisor for AATA, explains the Mercedes is "a quality vehicle." Robinson says the bus, which is larger than the other vans in the fleet although it does not have as much head room, runs on diesel fuel - a definite plus for the AATA in these times of gasoline crises. Robinson adds that such routine maintenance as new brakes and other parts, which wear out quickly on the current vans, may not have to be done as frequently on the Mercedes. "It's just an experiment to find out how the bus performs under the kind of treatment given the buses. We'-re o,ut to find the best vehicle we can for the system." Whether the AATA will renew its bus lease, or perhaps purchase vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, will depend on the records of maintenance, fuel consumption and other" considerations compiled by the Mercedes bus during its service;