The Flavors of Microtransit Fact Sheet
- Date: May 20, 2022
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The Different Contexts for Different Service Models
There are multiple factors that can determine service design for a microtransit program. Depending on the unmet transit needs of the implementing agencies, transit providers may want to target specific user groups, times of day, or geographic areas for more flexible on-demand service. Other considerations for microtransit service such as organizational capacity, community input, and funding availability can determine which “flavor” of microtransit an agency should implement. This fact sheet lays out several use cases for different applications of microtransit service.
01: Non-Emergency Medical Transportation
Five suburban communities in the Minneapolis area are served by SouthWest Transit, which provides microtransit through its Prime service. In addition, SouthWest Transit wanted to improve its non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) service, PrimeMD. The agency allowed eligible customers to book medical trips up to two weeks in advance on its microtransit service and return trips are booked on-demand at the time the trip is needed. This program resulted in an increase in NEMT ridership and a decrease in average waiting time by 13%.
02: Underserved Geographic Area
The Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (KCATA) launched RideKC Micro Transit, a microtransit pilot that focused on an area of the region with inadequate transit service. The agency’s previous microtransit pilot, which had limited success, had served only peak periods and provided curb-to-curb service from designated fixed route stops. The second pilot version, launched in January 2019, expanded the hours to 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM and provided service door-to-door. Ridership in this second iteration has been much more robust and popular among local officials and riders.
03: Turnkey Operations
Microtransit can be provided through in-house resources or as a turnkey operation through a contractor. One advantage of a turnkey operation, especially when just getting started with microtransit, is that the operator provides all aspects of the service -vehicles, IT, operations management, drivers, etc. This is the kind of service offered in Arlington, TX with its Arlington Via Rideshare service. Agencies considering turnkey operations should pay close attention to data availability to ensure compliance with relevant state and federal regulations.
04: Small Urban Microtransit
Wilson, NC is a small city of just under 50,000 residents located east of Raleigh, and is the largest city in the county. The existing fixed route transit system had long headways, few routes, and low coverage of the city’s destinations. After exploring multiple alternatives, the city chose to transition away from fixed route service to an all-microtransit service (“RIDE”) in order to improve both coverage and wait times for residents. The new microtransit service was funded within the existing transit budget. In order to serve those without smartphones or credit cards, trips can be reserved by phone and paid for through prepaid vouchers or debit cards.
05: Underserved Time of Day
Norwalk, CT launched an off-peak microtransit pilot program (“Wheels 2 U”) to provide after-hours service for Norwalk residents. The initial 6-month pilot launch of the program had an operating budget of $64,000 provided by Ford Smart Mobility combined with a local commercial developer’s contribution. There are also periodic sponsorships by local business partners for time-limited promotions. The program has seen steady ridership growth since its start in 2018, with Friday and Saturday nights between 5:00 and 8:00 PM being the most popular ride times. Since the initial launch of the service, Wheels 2 U expanded to neighboring Westport, CT.