Putting a microscope on MicroTransit

What we learned from our interviews with three transit agencies who piloted MicroTransit…and what we didn’t.

As Metro began designing and developing the MicroTransit Pilot Project (MTP), we did so knowing that publicly operated on-demand transit is a relatively new service model and the literature is limited. To help inform our project, OEI investigated the experiences at three transit agencies that have deployed on-demand technology. OEI conducted a series of interviews with the project managers and key project team members to learn more.

Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and Alameda Contra Costa Transit District microtransit pilots were selected for our case studies. The Eno Center for Transportation published our report during the Transportation Research Board annual meetings in early January 2018. You can find it here.

Here are our key takeaways and recommendations when developing on-demand pilots:

  1. Prioritize customers’ needs ahead of the novelty of new technology and think critically about how to design, develop and implement a pilot that puts the customer first.
  2. Utilize a contracting mechanism that empowers those most familiar with the pilot to make quick decisions to be able to make changes quickly.
  3. The success or failure of the project should be based on performance metrics that go beyond ridership changes and farebox recovery, such as including improved mobility, increased safety and enhanced customer experience.
  4. Establish goals up-front and work with potential technology vendors to design a microtransit project within those parameters.
  5. Invest in robust marketing and outreach in order to ensure that all current and potential customers understand how to use the service.

It is our intent to build on the Microtransit foundation that these transit agencies have laid, and to begin the MTP by having asked the right questions.

1 reply

  1. I read the Metro microtransit program is aimed at more affluent commuters. I seriously doubt this will work. Charging wealthy commuters $2-3 for short trips to rail metro stations so they can pay another $1.75 for a trip and does not include a microtransit program at the other end does not sound so appealing for wealthy commuters to give up their cars.

    I would rather wait for self-driving micro public transit that can offer more routes and rides for a lot less. Somebody at Metro should really be talking to somebody at Google because they are testing a system in Phoenix already.