CLARIFICATION: The on-demand systems in Orange County, Central Contra Costa and San Joaquin will be operated by TransLoc.
- Three California municipalities — Orange County Transportation Authority, Central Contra Costa Transit Authority and the San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) — have partnered with TransLoc to add microtransit options to their transportation system. The on-demand, transit agency-owned systems will use shuttles operated by TransLoc to pick up individual riders who are all going in the same direction.
- The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Authority (LA Metro) has taken similar action, by partnering with ride-share company Via. The project is partially funded by a $1.35 million Federal Transit Administration grant and is expected to launch in summer 2018.
- All of the systems aim to improve first mile/last mobility with options that function like ride-sharing services but use a fare structure similar to public transit.
All of the California municipalities that partnered with TransLoc for the microtransit services are suburban or rural areas. These regions often are less served by both public transit and ride-share companies. The pilot programs will test if microtransit can be an efficient and affordable mobility option in areas that aren't as densely populated as urban centers, where ride-sharing and public transit are prevalent.
RTD has been actively working to transform its transit system in the greater Stockton area into one that is more accessible to riders and more sustainable. Earlier this year it converted an entire bus rapid transit (BRT) line to electric power and hopes to convert the entire BRT system to electric buses by 2025. The microtransit pilot will offer yet another efficient means of transportation.
Via has expanded its reach into several cities recently, such as West Sacramento, CA and Arlington, TX. Its service in Los Angeles County will particularly focus on getting riders to and from bus stops and transit hubs. This provides residents with another mobility option as Los Angeles determines what its long-term microtransit plan will be. Last month it began soliciting proposals from companies for its MicroTransit Pilot program to complement its existing bus and rail services.
Microtransit is a growing effort by municipalities to boost transit ridership during a period when it's largely sagging across the country, especially bus ridership. It meets citizens' desires of more flexible and convenient systems while potentially reducing congestion by using dynamic routes based on real-time traffic information and demand.