- Downtown STL, the downtown business association in St. Louis, is funding a microtransit pilot that begins Thursday.
- Users can request the five-passenger, zero emissions electric vehicles, called eCabs, with an app similar to those used for ride-sharing, or they can request a trip by phone or hail a vehicle like a traditional cab. The service provides point-to-point dynamic routing for trips anywhere within the city's downtown area.
- The eCab service will be free during the trial period, which runs from March 1 through June 30.
St. Louis is the latest city to experiment with the microtransit trend, which has been getting a lot of attention in recent months. A number of cities in California — including Sacramento and Los Angeles — have been early adopters of microtransit pilot programs.
A few hotels in downtown St. Louis had provided a limited eCab service, but now the pilot program has been expanded for use by all customers in the downtown district. The ride pools are only designed to take passengers on short trips of less than two miles to provide first mile/last mile connections.
Organizers believe the service could be particularly useful for commuters to get between light rail stations and their jobs. It could also prove popular with tourists, so it makes sense to roll out the pilot program during the tourist-heavy spring and summer months.
Although the pilot only runs through June, eCab service could become permanent if it's deemed successful during the test period. The ultimate goal is to incorporate the microtransit into the St. Louis Metro system and to charge a small fee that would be in line with other transit fares.