Need a ride somewhere? Grab a bus! Transit seemed simpler before the rise of ridesharing, a global pandemic, and tech tools to help you get from point A to point B. No matter how things change, there’s a continuing need for reliable transportation. One strategy helping riders along their journeys is microtransit. Learn more about microtransit, its place in the community, and how your agency can implement it.
What is Microtransit?
Sometimes you need a happy medium. Microtransit sits between mass transit and ride-hailing services as a shared transit option that uses shuttles, minibuses, or even regular cars to deliver transportation to the public. What’s becoming clear to riders and agencies alike is that it’s extremely flexible too. Microtransit can be subsidized or private and operates on demand, only dispatching vehicles at the time of need. But there’s much more to it than being demand-responsive—microtransit supports riders and communities in a number of ways.
How can microtransit support riders with diverse needs?
No two riders are exactly alike. That’s why you need to factor in everything from income to mobility to the need for a more complete service. Microtransit answers all three, especially as the world around us changes.
Assist lower-income individuals.
Riders who can't afford to own a car have historically been underserved by traditional transit. Luckily, microtransit fills the gap between traditional fixed-route transportation, ridesharing, and individual transportation. This is especially helpful since the pandemic disproportionately affected lower-income workers who had to continue finding their way to their jobs each day despite transit upsets.
As providers look to put the pandemic in the rearview, giants such as Uber and Lyft are returning to higher-end services, allowing microtransit to step in as an alternative that’s flexible, affordable, and accessible.
Improve equity and accessibility.
Some riders travel with an aide, others need regular rides to appointments, and still more require accommodations for mobility devices or access to lifts and ramps. The elderly and those with mobility challenges have unique transportation needs. Like a genie granting wishes, microtransit and technology solutions come to the rescue, allowing these people to move within their communities with a similar level of planning, effort, time, and expense as anyone else.
Address the “first-mile, last-mile” problem.
Microtransit benefits nontraditional paratransit customers. It fills in the gap at the start and end of every trip that's difficult for traditional transit operators to serve in a cost-effective way and has the flexibility of transportation network companies, but without needing to be associated with the accessibility community.
How can microtransit make a difference in a community?
Microtransit empowers communities and the agencies that serve them to manage the how, when, and why of transportation. Between aligning with values and leveraging technology, the option is an easy win across the board.
It allows for a car-free lifestyle for choice riders.
Owning and driving a car just doesn’t make sense to some riders, and they need alternatives to get around. Microtransit helps environmentally-conscious riders pursue a greener solution to connect to the transit network. Consider: Each car in a shared network replaces 11 private cars, reducing carbon emissions. But it also saves riders valuable time and money usually spent on things such as insurance, parking, gas, and commuting.
It offers tech-enabled on-demand options.
Better data on mobility patterns and wide smartphone access have made on-demand transit more possible. For instance, people prefer to share rides with others like themselves. Knowing this, agencies such as yours can leverage tech to match like-minded riders in the same vehicle. Microtransit, paired with the right technology, serves end users and agencies alike with key features and functionalities.
Rider Benefits of Ecolane
Riders need to get moving without friction. For our part, Ecolane allows riders to use app technology to book rides in specific zones so a driver can take them to a fixed-route transit stop or an end destination. The platform also enhances convenience. Our app incorporates credit card processing and self-registration, making booking easier.
Agency Benefits of Ecolane
Agencies using Ecolane’s software stand out in a crowd of microtransit options. One of the biggest differentiators is our real-time communications that match demand with supply, a rare capability in the industry. Agencies that take advantage of this generally see higher customer satisfaction and can also streamline their operations.
Empower your microtransit strategy with the best software.
Microtransit is redefining transportation for riders, communities, and agencies alike. Unique needs? Specific preferences? Microtransit and the technology powering it make transit a whole new experience. Use Ecolane to expand your microtransit capabilities. Explore our solutions to learn how to take your agency to new heights.
About the Author
Read Ecolane's blog articles for perspective, opinion and information on transit and paratransit issues.