Driver assistance programs for Mackinac Bridge will restart Nov. 1 with fee increases

Noelle Gray
The Detroit News

Mackinac Island — The Mackinac Bridge service that provides drivers for motorists who don't want to drive their vehicles over the bridge and provides transportation for pedestrians, bicyclists and snowmobilers to the other side is being reinstated Nov. 1, but it will cost those travelers more.

In 2019, 2,559 customers used the free driver service. The driver assistance programs have been suspended since March 13, 2020, as part of precautions against the spread of COVID-19 between customers of the bridge and staff. 

"Suspending these popular programs was a difficult decision, but one that was necessary based on what we knew then about this ongoing pandemic," said Mackinac Bridge Authority Chairman Patrick "Shorty" Gleason. "As our committee and staff have examined these programs, it became clear that reinstatement should come with changes to address staff concerns and costs of the services provided, as the programs have been provided at a net loss for the Authority."

The service to hire a driver will no longer be free; it will now cost $10. That will rise to $15 in 2025.

Additionally, the liability waiver form has been updated to include a checklist of actions the customer must agree to: allowing adjustments of mirrors and the driver's seat, using a dash camera to record the inside of the vehicle during the crossing, keeping any animals restrained, all occupants must wear a mask covering their nose and mouth, and allowing the vehicle to be cleaned before crossing.

Fees for pedestrians, bicyclists and snowmobilers are being increased.

Pedestrians and bicyclists must cross the Mackinac Bridge in a vehicle; the new fee for transport service from the bridge authority will be $5 for pedestrians, up from $3.50, and $15 for bicyclists, up from $5.

The new fee to transport a snowmobile and one rider is $20, up from $15, with additional riders charged $5, up from $3.50.

The bridge authority says the new fees only help defray the cost of the transportation services; the average cost to the bridge authority is $33 per trip to provide a driver, and transportation and vehicles per trip cost it $23.21 per pedestrian, $32.50 per bicyclist and $61.30 for snowmobile services.