The Future is Now and it’s Microtransit

Let’s face it, your community can offer clean, efficient, wide-ranging public transportation, but if the riding public can’t get to it or if it doesn’t service a specific location -- at the time they need to get there – they won’t use it. Enter microtransit. It opens up a world of options for your passengers. And, rather than compete with traditional fixed-route transit, it enhances it. Think of it like peanut butter and jelly or shoes and socks. Public transit and microtransit just go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong!  Who doesn’t love a great Grease lyric!  Public transit leveraging Micro transit is truly transformative.

So what is microtransit?  Microtransit typically consists of short trips in defined service areas. It uses vehicles that are smaller in size than traditional transit vehicles and, therefore, moves fewer people per trip. Microtransit provides what mass transit, by definition, cannot -- instant and dynamic flexibility to all regions. Think of it this way: the goal of mass transit is to move large numbers of people along a fixed route at the same time. Microtransit, can be incorporated because it is a bit more flexible. It offers door-to-door or door-to-hub or hub to hub travel and is immediately responsive to individual demand. Because it uses smart software platforms to manage multimodal forms of transport, riders can use their smart phones to search book, plan and pay for an entire trip that encompasses an infinite range of transit options across public, shared, and private modes – anything from traditional public transit to taxis, paratransit to ridesharing, bike sharing to walking.

Microtransit’s inherent flexibility allows transit agencies to cover mobility needs that currently may not be efficiently met. For example, microtransit could solve the first and last mile problem – providing a convenient way to connect passengers to mass transit. It could be used for trips that are extremely time sensitive but not regularly occurring (e.g., catching a flight). It could provide service on routes that aren’t population-dense enough to justify the cost of a fixed route bus, or it could be put into action during off-peak hours when there is no regular service (e.g., night owls looking for a way home). Microtransit could also be configured to transport employees from park and ride lots to their job sites, or it could serve as a commuter shuttle.

RATP Dev USA is excited to roll out our successful Slide™ on Demand service to our American clients and their passengers. Slide™ is a shared curb-to-curb instant on-demand transport service we have been testing in Bristol, UK for the past two years to rave reviews. Here’s how it works:

  1. Search a trip by inputting an origin, a destination, and a preferred pick-up time in the mobile or web app. The ride request is automatically sent to available drivers.

  2. Book a ride by selecting from a list of available times, costs, and walking distances. Because this is an instant mobility service, the driver will respond within minutes to confirm ride.

  3. Pay for the ride with a credit card and save the e-ticket in the app.

  4. Ride by meeting at the pick-up point (potentially with other passengers), and getting off at a set drop-off point.

Slide™ provides huge benefits to the travelling public. It’s convenient, safe, and comfortable. It is cash-free, helps reduce wait times, and allows passengers to move seamlessly from one mode of transport to another, thus improving the overall travel experience.

In the quickly changing world of public transit, microtransit is a pretty new idea, but it is taking hold. Innovations in communication, information sharing, technology, and mobility options have all coalesced to make microtransit the perfect partner for public transportation. As mobility becomes more seamless, more people will turn to public transit because it is so easy, convenient, and affordable. In fact, the mobility on demand market is expected to exceed $200 billion by 2024.

Like the song says … we go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. Sure, those kids were singing about life after high school, but they may as well have been envisioning a world where microtransit and public transit work hand-in-hand.  And that’s the way it should be because together microtransit and public transportation form an integrated, interconnected, holistic transit system that can serve the needs of all your riders.

Molly Lepine