Passenger Transport August 2019 Vol 77 No 15 - 1



| VOLUME 77, NO. 15

The Delicate Balance
Of Microtransit
Service vs. Efficiency, or Transformational
Opportunity vs. Just the Latest Fad?

A Thoughtful Planning Process
First, assess where your riders are and where they
want to go.
"The first question should always be, 'What


Let's Play Ball!
Photo by Jeffrey Leeser, JTA

THE RAPID IN GRAND RAPIDS, MI, is partnering with Via
to implement an updated model for paratransit deployment:
"Rapid On Demand," an app-based network that incorporates
ride-hailing technology rather than pre-scheduling days in
The six-month pilot project will provide same-day rides
with a wait time of 15 minutes or less to riders eligible for The
Rapid's GO!Bus paratransit service within a specific service
area. While Via provides wheelchair-accessible vehicles in
almost all its markets, this will be its first-ever deployment fully
dedicated to paratransit.
Andrew Johnson, chief executive office of The Rapid, called
the new service "an exciting opportunity to provide same-day
service that improves independence and customer experience
to those who may not be able to utilize typical ride-hailing
Funding for the pilot program, totaling $373,782, comes
from the Michigan Mobility Challenge, funded through an
$8 million state legislative appropriation in 2018 to use
technology and innovation to address core mobility gaps for
seniors, persons with disabilities and veterans across the
state. The city of Grand Rapids and the county's disability
advocacy agency are joining Via on the project team.
By using the Rapid On Demand app, riders can hail a
shuttle directly from their smartphone. Its technology provides for multiple riders to seamlessly share the vehicle and
can direct passengers to a nearby virtual bus stop within a
short walking distance for pickup and drop-off.

Photo by Angel Grajeda, CTA

The Rapid, Via Partner
To Provide On-Demand
Paratransit Service

seeing declining ridership in recent years, and
technology advances facilitating scheduling of
small-capacity vehicles, many systems are looking
to microtransit to improve customer service and
expand their service area. This feeds into changing customer expectations-thanks to disruptive
technology across a range of industries-for
everything at our fingertips, from food through
DoorDash to movies on Netflix and rides via Uber
and Lyft.
Microtransit holds the potential of bringing
new riders to fixed routes, reaching suburban
areas seeing the quickest population growth and
increasing equity by providing access to groups
with the most need: older riders, low-income
residents and people with disabilities. Using minibuses or large vans in a fixed area would allow
public transit agencies to penetrate more deeply
into neighborhoods without inconveniencing residents in the way full-size buses would. Meanwhile,
the cost of these smaller, more nimble vehicles
makes the service more affordable to provide
and the convenience of on-demand scheduling
makes it more appealing to riders than existing
But in exploring microtransit, public transit
professionals should be aware of the many factors
they will need to balance. As you expand the ser-

vice area, you risk increasing wait times. The more
closely you try to meet customers' expectations
of a personalized experience, the more your costs
will rise. Basically, an agency is seeking to locate
a sweet spot between a taxi service and traditional public transit. The key is to find that happy
medium based on the unique characteristics of
the system, customer base and local needs.
"Are you going to be fast and frequent or are
you going to give a little piece to everybody and
have lower service?" asked Jameson Auten,
senior vice president of operations and innovation for the Kansas City Area (MO) Transportation
Authority (KCATA). "In the places where we need
coverage, how do on-demand services fill those
To maximize your agency's opportunity for success, be sure to plan carefully, communicate with
your customers, launch the service aggressively
enough to be noticed, expect to adapt and never
take your eye from the prize, driving efficiency
as microtransit gets underway, according to
interviews with public transit officials across the

Chicago Transit Authority President Dorval R. Carter Jr.
threw out the first pitch before the start of the Aug. 7
Chicago Cubs baseball game against the Oakland
Athletics. This Transit Appreciation Game was held at
Wrigley Field in support of regional public transit.

APTA Chair David M. Stackrow Sr., board treasurer
of the Capital District Transportation Authority,
threw out the first pitch at the July 22 Jacksonville
Jumbo Shrimp Minor League game at an event
hosted by the Jacksonville Transportation Authority
held during APTA's Transit Board Members & Board
Administrators Seminar.


Passenger Transport August 2019 Vol 77 No 15

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Passenger Transport August 2019 Vol 77 No 15

Passenger Transport August 2019 Vol 77 No 15 - 1
Passenger Transport August 2019 Vol 77 No 15 - 2
Passenger Transport August 2019 Vol 77 No 15 - 3
Passenger Transport August 2019 Vol 77 No 15 - 4
Passenger Transport August 2019 Vol 77 No 15 - 5
Passenger Transport August 2019 Vol 77 No 15 - 6
Passenger Transport August 2019 Vol 77 No 15 - 7
Passenger Transport August 2019 Vol 77 No 15 - 8
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Passenger Transport August 2019 Vol 77 No 15 - 12