Implementing microtransit solutions
In recent years, several companies have begun to develop microtransit networks in communities across the United States, bringing more sophisticated transportation access to millions of people and paving the way to bring more equity into the mobility space.
A notable example is the launch of Via shuttles in major U.S. cities like Washington, D.C., Chicago, and New York. Via’s on-demand service allows travelers to book rides through a mobile app and pool with other travelers moving in the same direction. According to the company’s recent data, Via’s microtransit services helped reduce carbon emissions by 35.2% in 2022, for a total reduction of 4,853 tons of carbon dioxide.
Additionally, the company says that “40.8% of Via-powered microtransit rides replaced trips previously served by private vehicles in 2022,” suggesting that a large percentage of Via’s riders opt to use public transit over personal vehicles. This data is indicative of how impactful microtransit is on shaping commuters’ behavior and reducing our carbon footprint. Via’s approach to sustainable transportation has proven successful in providing urban travelers with a flexible and efficient mobility option.
Another prominent microtransit provider is Circuit, which has been introduced in U.S. cities such as New York, Washington, D.C, West Palm Beach, and Miami. Circuit leverages electric shuttles that offer emission-free transportation that customers can hail using Circuit’s app. By deploying small electric shuttles and a service that supports route optimization, Circuit helps to reduce traffic congestion, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance mobility.
Brightline is a passenger rail service provider in Florida that launched its own microtransit shuttle service to complement train offerings. In select service areas, Brightline+ customers can use the Brightline app to book a flexible and all-electric neighborhood shuttle service to enhance FLM connectivity to and from train stations. In Wilson, North Carolina, the fixed-route transit services were replaced by the VIA microtransit option, RIDE, which costs only $1.50 per ride within a designated service boundary. In partnership with the City of Wilson, VIA launched a full, turnkey service inclusive of software, drivers, and vehicles.
These examples of microtransit adoption help to illustrate its increasing presence in the U.S. by aiding commuters in reaching transit hubs from their pick-up and drop-off points with greater ease.
Although the concept of microtransit is fairly recent, there are several strategies and best practices that those contemplating microtransit implementation should keep in mind. Strategies that contribute to the affordability of microtransit include tech-driven route optimization and pooling passengers with similar travel itineraries in one vehicle to serve the most people in the best way possible.
Best practices for microtransit implementation include establishing local relationships, leveraging technological advancements, and conducting on-going evaluations to adapt services to changing mobility needs. It’s important to establish relationships with local government stakeholders and regional transportation agencies to integrate as seamlessly as possible with the existing transportation network, navigate various laws and regulations, potentially utilize existing infrastructure, and share insights about changes in the transportation landscape. It is equally important to leverage technological advancements such as strong dispatch systems, real-time data, and algorithms. Finally, ongoing evaluations of services and adapting to the changing needs of travelers is critical to the success of microtransit projects. These strategies and best practices can lead to shorter wait times for travelers, greater transportation network accessibility, and improved service quality.
The future of microtransit holds great promise in evolving transportation networks. By harnessing the potential of microtransit, we can create a future where transportation is seamless, inclusive, accessible, and sustainable.