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43 This chapter reviews the experiences of five different transit agencies that have instituted general public demandâresponse service. Denver RTD has been the pioneer in providing DRT by using advanced technologies and has had a successful track record for almost 10 years in over 20 Flex zones. LYNX has also provided call-a-ride DRT service for 10 years in 12 different com- munities but has only recently instituted the more advanced technology that makes their service fit the on-demand category of service that is more convenient for customers. Houston METRO has been providing DRT for only 3 years with somewhat dated technology and limited success in terms of ridership, due to an awkward political circumstance that resulted in fixed route services retained in the flex zone that was established. SacRT represents an example of a recent (2018) entrant into the field of public microtransit. The transit agency experienced immediate accep- tance and ridership in one community sufficient to support the expansion of microtransit into two additional communities, by using affordable new technology. The last case study reviews the experience of the Salem Area Mass Transit District (Cherriots) that replaced fixed route transit in one of its communities with on-demand service but ultimately discontinued that service and returned to providing fixed route service. Denver Regional Transportation District Background and Setting Denver Regional Transportation District operates in a service area with a population of more than 3 million people. The transit agency carries 103 million passengers per year on more than 1,000 vehicles of different modes. While Denver is a vibrant and growing city, the region it serves has many areas of relatively low density. RTD established general public DRT service for the following reasons: â¢ To be relevant in suburban, lower density areas where fixed route transit is inefficient. â¢ To serve areas with dispersed travel patterns and non-contiguous streets more effectively than is possible with large fixed route buses. â¢ To address issues of jurisdictional equity for areas that provide tax support but receive no service. â¢ To complement the transit network by providing connections to regional service. No other transit agency in the nation has embraced the provision of general public DRT as much as RTD has. RTD has been the pioneer in developing and providing truly dynamic DRT. No other transit agency provides as much DRT service, and RTD has been extremely generous in sharing its experience. RTD is the best source of practical information on how to provide general public DRT as efficiently as possible. RTD serves two primary markets with its DRT service: first mile/last mile service for regular and reverse commuters and community circulation within zones for internal trips in residential and mixed-use areas. C H A P T E R 4 Case Examples
44 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice RTD has long been an agency that operates with strong service guidelines to promote effi- ciency. In 2000, RTDâs general manager and staff informed the mayor and staff of the City of Brighton that their existing circulator route performed so poorly it would need to be dis- continued. A new and different service referred to as Call-n-Ride was offered as a potential alternative that might succeed. The City initially objected, not knowing how well this service would work or how well it would be received by residents. Fortunately, the service enjoyed a propitious beginning with ridership quickly increasing from 15 passengers per day carried by the previous circulator to 60 passengers per day for the same amount of resources that had been applied to the circulator. The riders, mayor, and staff were satisfied. More important, this positive experience laid the groundwork that helped the concept gain more ready acceptance in many other communities. RTD continued to consider placing Call-n-Ride service in other areas where existing transit services were performing poorly. It also became an option for areas that had no transit service but that had expressed interest in getting some kind of service for the tax support they provided to the transit district. Figure 4 depicts the Denver RTD service area with the first mile/last mile Call-n-Ride zones and the community circulator Call-n-Ride zones clearly outlined. Planning and Design of Call-n-Ride Services Although Call-n-Ride service is distinctly different from fixed route service, RTD uses the same general process they use before implementing any of their different services: research, eval- uation, service design, proposals, public engagement, approvals, and implementation. Before launching Call-n-Ride service in a zone, agency staff researches travel patterns, trip generators, and travel speeds to appropriately size the service area and designate checkpoints (time points) and zones. RTD also considers population and employment density, street layout and connec- tivity, dispersion and concentration of traffic generators, community (service area) size, and transit network connections. The level of service provided will be geared to travel patterns and cost-effectiveness and will not try to serve every element of the potential market at the same level of service (5). RTD is a great believer in fitting any level of demand with the most appropriate level of service. RTD develops their service configurations to be customized to the specific market and commu- nity circumstances, including the following: â¢ Many to many, on-demand, and community-based; â¢ Feeder to transit network through timed transfers; â¢ Point deviation, that is, DRT with regularly or dynamically scheduled checkpoints; â¢ Route deviation, that is, a combination of fixed route with scheduled or on-demand check- points; and â¢ Hybrid services, that is, combinations and variations of the above. The service areas, or Call-n-Ride zones, range in size from 1.14 to 30 square miles, with the median size being 7.5 square miles. Some service areas are stand-alone zones, but most service areas are part of a metropolitan area where connections to other transit services are available. There are fewer community-based zones offering many-to-many, on-demand services. RTD strongly discourages any thoughts that their services replicate taxi or TNC services. These par- ticular zones are usually lower density, served by only one vehicle, and unlikely to completely satisfy all service requests quickly. RTD makes a point to clarify this in order to maintain con- tinued community support for the service. RTDâs experience is that structured DRT generates higher productivity than a pure many-to-many, demandâresponse operation. Among RTDâs DRT services that are predominantly many-to-many operations (with either no cycle points or 60-minute frequency for cycle points), service productivity is typically in the range of 3 to 4.5 passenger trips per vehicle service hour. In contrast, in service areas using structured DRT
Case Examples 45 Figure 4. Location of Denver RTDâs Call-n-Ride (CnR) zones.
46 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice (and which typically have cycle times of 30 minutes or less), there are typically more concen- trated trip generators and productivity typically ranges from 5 to 9 passenger trips per hour, or approximately 50% more. The structuring of RTDâs DRT service as a feeder increases productivity while serving des- tinations too dispersed in the region for which it is impractical to have fixed route service. The structure of the DRT service can be as a residential collector, an employment distributor, or both. Their feeder routes connect to one of their high-frequency rail services or regional bus routes. This type of service often replaces fixed route transit with more cost-effective DRT service. Point deviation services are offered when there are some major generators of trips in a Call-n-Ride zone (such as an employment center or a school) meriting scheduled service, but other demands for service within the zone are more scattered temporally or geographically. This point deviation technique allows the DRT service to function somewhat like a fixed route at time points but flex freely, based on less frequent and unpredictable demand in between these scheduled stops. As opposed to fixed routes or shuttles, their DRT point deviation service can take customers when and where they want to go and skip destinations that are not in demand on that particular trip (6). Providers of Service and Vehicles Used RTD contracts over half its bus service and all its ADA paratransit service, while providing the vehicles and fuel, but not a garage, operators, or maintenance to its contractors. The agency has considerable documentation on the savings they have realized by contracting for service over the years. Procuring service this way also provides greater flexibility for serving widespread geographic locations (see Figure 4) and easy right-sizing of service. RTDâs Call-n-Ride is con- tracted the same way. The provisions of the agencyâs collective bargaining agreement allow the agency to offer community services and to contract out. No rule changes were necessary, and the Amalgamated Transit Union was not involved. When contracting for services, RTD believes the key provisions of their requests for proposals include â¢ A requirement for competitive salary and benefits that are realistic in the Denver market. â¢ Ensuring that staffing for the contract is adequate both in terms of numbers and key personnel with experience. â¢ The provision of a clear and specific description of services. â¢ To maximize competition, RTD does not use low bid. They are as interested in the experi- ence of the company and staff as they are in the price that the agency believes allows smaller companies to be competitive. RTD claims to have an outstanding and flexible procurement process that allows them to adjust easily to their service needs. The following language provided by the senior manager for service development comes from RTDâs current contract with MV Transit: Additional Call-n-Rides can be assigned under this contract at a variable rate. The fixed rate can be negotiated, if service levels are increased or decreased by 15% of annual hours, as consideration of staffing levels may vary depending on the number of Call-n-Rideâs peak vehicles. Depending on additional assign- ments, additional staff such as Supervisors, Operations Specialists, [and] Extra Board drivers may need to be assigned. Assignments will be based on geographical location of Call-n-Ride and [the] Contractor and on quality of service (on time performance, missed runs, etc.) that [the] Contractor has provided in the past.
Case Examples 47 As noted previously, RTD provides the vehicles their contractors use (Figure 5). They are the same vehicles the agency purchases for ADA paratransit service. The minibuses are 15-passenger body-on-chassis vehicles selected for their maneuverability, appropriate capacity for the demand, and acceptability in suburban environments. All the vehicles are lift-equipped and all the drivers go through training on ADA requirements. The agency requires 41 such vehicles to serve peak demand. The vehicles are marked as Call-n-Ride, but the RTD logo is on each vehicle as well. Marketing, Fares, Funding Sources, and Customer Satisfaction RTD engages in extensive community outreach and direct marketing techniques to pro- mote any new Call-n-Ride service, and these techniques take many of the forms that are listed earlier in the report. RTD keeps one marketing principle foremost in mind when designing its DRT services and that is to understand the market being served: 70% of all transit trips are for commuting to work or school. None of their Call-n-Ride zone services has ever been successful without catering to one or both of these markets. School trips are more prominent within community-based zones while work trips are more prominent within first mile/last mile zones. The agency does not get caught up in an effort to emulate services provided by TNC services or taxis that cater primarily to individual trips. The agency understands its role as public transit that carries as many people as possible within each vehicle and designs its services accordingly, emphasizing check points, frequent cycle times, and the addition of peak vehicles when needed to remain as efficient and attractive as possible. Fares charged for using RTDâs general public DRT services are the same as fares charged for regular fixed route bus service: $2.65 with a free transfer. The same forms of payment are accepted, including cash, tickets, passes, mobile phone, and smartcards. The policies have worked well, and the agency has not fielded any Title VI complaints. Perhaps most outstanding is the customer satisfaction associated with their Call-n-Ride services. The high levels of auto- mation within the system make relatively hassle-free on-demand service feasible for customers. Figure 5. RTD DRT minibus used in all Call-n-Ride zones.
48 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice In a 2008 on-board survey of passengers, the Denver RTDâs Call-n-Ride service had an overall customer satisfaction rating of 4.6 (on a 1â5 scale) compared with a 4.2 rating for the agencyâs fixed route bus service, with the former excelling in driver performance, comfort, security, customer information, and fares (5). The source of funding for RTDâs general public demandâresponse services includes RTD tax revenue, fares from operations, and some matching funds for vehicles. The service achieves only a 7% farebox recovery ratio, but the cost per hour to provide ser- vice is considerably less than that for fixed route service and less per passenger trip than para transit service. Technology Platforms and Applications RTDâs Flex services are enabled by a comprehensive technology platform that its technology partner, DemandTrans Solutions, developed in close cooperation with the transit agency (AC Transit and Cherriots also worked with this technology company). Mobile technology, com- prehensive automation, and full web-based architecture were the foundational elements of the technology solutions from the start. Beginning with a successful prototype solution in a single service zone in 2005, a comprehensive technology platform was introduced in 2007. In 2010, this technology system was progressively deployed across all 20 DRT service zones then in opera- tion. The name of the technology system is MobilityDR, and numerous enhancements have been added every year since 2010. MobilityDR is a fully automated scheduling and vehicle management platform. There are no reservationists, schedulers, or dispatchers. With this platform and intelligent service configura- tion, many users have to do little to access the service and benefit from its on-demand nature. Customers can book online through their computer or mobile phone or board spontaneously at scheduled checkpoints or stations. Subscriptions are also accepted so regular commuters do not need to book each pickup trip at approximately the same time each day. The MobilityDR notification system tells customers the Call-n-Ride vehicle is due to arrive in a few minutes via a text message, e-mail, or automated phone call. Thanks to the âQuickBoardâ feature included in MobilityDR, passengers boarding at rail or express bus stations or at other scheduled checkpoints do not need to book a trip. Passengers simply access the station or checkpoint on the published schedule and walk on, telling the driver their destination. The driver enters that information into the MobilityDR application on a tablet computer, and the automated scheduling system then schedules the deliveries of all those who just boarded, along with other advance reservation trips. All of these features of the application make Call-n-Ride easy for riders. It is important to note that due to the highly structured nature of the service, nearly three-quarters of all trips in first mile/last mile zones have no need for any reservations to be made. RTD uses the Open TripPlanner (OTP, an open source application) on its website for cus- tomers to enter a trip request and receive an itinerary. Trip planners now all use the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) to produce standard route and schedule data for OTP and other vendors that have other trip planning apps (such as Google). There is only a fixed route specification, but the GTFS-Flex for Flexible services (paratransit, on-demand, or Flex route) is now in development and testing. This will allow trip planners to discover on-demand services to offer in an itinerary. A variety of service modalities that MobilityDR enables are used in the Call-n-Ride zones: Flex route service, checkpoint-focused service, and fully demandâresponsive, which means that all
Case Examples 49 addresses are eligible pickup or drop-off points. There is often a mix of modalities. For example, the service might operate in feeder route mode during peak hours and fully demandâresponsive mode during off-peak periods. Another reason for the growing interest in the technology associated with dynamic DRT is that the price of the hardware and software has decreased substantially over time. RTD deter- mined that the total cost of all the technology components (e.g., software, hardware, or tech- nical assistance) for its general public DRT represents only 3% of the total costs associated with providing the service. The annual cost per Call-n-Ride service area is $9,100, while the annual cost per vehicle is $4,800 (22). Performance Metrics RTD carefully tracks the performance metrics of all its modes of service, including the Call-n-Ride program. Table 5 provides comprehensive detail on the characteristics and perfor- mance of each of the Call-n-Ride zones from January through December 2017. While there is a surprising consistency in the level of ridership among most zones, it is clear that those first mile/last mile zones serving office parks and colleges are the most productive. Figure 6 provides evidence that even the most experienced general public DRT program can face challenges when it comes to producing impressive ridership numbers when serving areas Table 5. Performance metrics of Denver RTDâs Call-n-Ride services by type of zone.
50 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice of relatively low density. However, RTD believes its DRT service has been successful at meeting agency objectives because â¢ The service is more cost-effective, productive, and attractive than comparable bus service in many suburban areas with low-to-moderate density of 3 to 12 population + employment per acre and dispersed travel patterns and circuitous street networks. The average cost per trip is $21.84. â¢ The service addresses jurisdictional equity within the Denver metropolitan area, offering another type of service that works well enough in markets where fixed-route transit does not. â¢ The service also integrates with the transit network to complete customer trips and provides greater access to more opportunities within the entire service area. Lessons Learned When asked what are the most valuable lessons learned that the agency would want to share with other agencies that are considering establishing similar services, RTD provided the following response: â¢ Establish clear, measurable objectives. â¢ Plan for the market: assess potential ridership, customer characteristics, and service area characteristics. â¢ Research customersâ travel patterns and configure the service to meet their needs. â¢ RTD has service policies and standards to fulfill its mission. To this end shared-riding is essential. Taxi-like productivity does not meet RTDâs mission or standards of at least 2 to 3 boardings per service hour. Boardings per Vehicle Hour C o st p er B o ar d in g Figure 6. Comparisons of Denver RTD Call-n-Ride services performance with suburban local routes: 2016 (Jeffco = Jefferson County).
Case Examples 51 â¢ Marketing promotions are even more difficult than for fixed route services. Marketing requires substantial coordination with communities affected and considerable outreach and direct promotions. When asked what the barriers were or are to providing general public demandâresponse service, RTD offered the following general challenges, noting there might be differences among transit agencies: â¢ Customers, staff, and stakeholders do not know much about it; they just want bus service. â¢ Inexperienced staff might lack clear understanding of the market or what services are appropriate to provide. â¢ Collective bargaining agreement provisions can hinder flexibility and nimbleness. â¢ There is a need for contract management for a new type of service. â¢ There is a need for performance assessment for new types of services. â¢ There is a need for technology assessment and acquisition. â¢ There is a need for integration with the transit network. Houston METRO Background and Setting Houston METRO operates in a service area with a population of more than 4 million people. The agency carries approximately 80 million passengers a year in over 1,300 vehicles of differ- ent modes. Houston has an economy heavily invested in energy production and is known for its sprawl, investment in roads, and car-oriented culture. Many areas of relatively low density in the Houston region are difficult to serve efficiently with fixed route transit. METRO decided to experiment with providing general public demandâresponse transit service to replace highly inefficient fixed route bus service. The primary goals of establishing DRT were (a) to continue to offer service in an area where fixed route bus service was ineffective, (b) to continue to offer service in an area where fixed route bus service was costly, and (c) to test the potential viabil- ity of an alternative service concept for other areas where fixed route bus service was costly and ineffective. METRO was aware of relatively successful implementation of DRT services in Dallas and Denver and hoped to institute similar services. Figure 7 shows the areas where METRO proposed providing general public DRT in relation to its center city. The determination of where and how general public demandâresponse transit service would be provided was not based on strict market analysis but rather on a set of criteria shown in Figure 8. Planning and Design of Flex Zone Services During its System Reimagining Plan in FY 2014âFY 2015, METRO originally proposed the creation of five Flex zones. The creation of such zones was consistent with the overall reimagin- ing process that encouraged increasing frequencies on the most heavily used fixed routes while redesigning service in less dense areas. Following a series of general and area-specific meetings with citizens, community leaders, elected officials, and stakeholders, however, it became appar- ent that there was not clear support for DRT in all five proposed Flex zones. The most significant problem that was encountered was the perception that the proposed general public DRT service would be operated identical to the preexisting paratransit demandâresponse service. This percep- tion was a significant issue because the preexisting paratransit demandâresponse service was not held in high regard in several of the areas where the general public DRT service was proposed. METRO decided to work with the one community that was open to trying the concept (Figure 9). The service is provided during select hours that offer passengers three options
52 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice Figure 7. Map of the Houston METRO proposed Flex zones. Figure 8. Criteria for proposed Flex zones by Houston METRO.
Case Examples 53 for securing a trip: (1) boarding at one of two anchor points (Acres Homes Transit Center or Walmart); (2) calling in to a dedicated dispatch number for specific trip assignments; or (3) calling in to a dedicated dispatch number for subscription trips. Providers of Service and Vehicles Used At the start of the pilot project in March 2015, METRO used only contracted buses operated by the same company that provides ADA paratransit services for the agency. After the service began, METRO created a separate âservice driverâ bus operator category to handle the general public DRT flex routes and brought the service in house. There were no work rule changes to accommodate this new position or the service. METRO uses ARBOC low floor minibuses with 12 seats for the base service, supplemented with contracted taxi-cab service for peak periods. The fleet assignment was based upon the actual ridership for the fixed route service that had operated in the area. The original plan was to dispatch two ARBOC buses for passenger service plus two additional ARBOC buses (one for a service supervisor and one reserved as a spare) on weekdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. METRO offers four all-day METRO-operated ARBOC buses, two peak period-only METRO-operated ARBOC buses, and two contracted taxi cabs on weekdays; four METRO-operated ARBOC buses and two contracted taxi cabs on Saturdays; and four METRO-operated ARBOC buses on Sundays. The all-day METRO-operated ARBOC buses are branded by using a bus wrap approved by the community. The ARBOC buses are suitably sized to handle the level of demand and are small enough that the service drivers do not need to have a commercial driverâs license. Figure 9. Houston METROâs DRT Flex zone featuring deviated fixed route service. Asterisks clarify the following circumstances: In the case of a Community Connector, if there are no customers at the first anchor point (start of service) and no calls along the way, the bus will arrive at the second anchor point (end of service) before the scheduled running time. Due to the street network, it is possible for the bus to arrive significantly ahead of the scheduled running time.
54 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice Technology Utilized METRO uses Trapeze PASS 16 software to schedule trips through their live reservations agents, and many customers board the bus without reservations at either of the two anchor points on the hour and inform the operators where they would like to go. However, most of the customers use some type of telephone reservation. The agency also uses Trapeze Ranger mobile data terminals to transmit customer trip information along with GPS to track and assess route performance. The agency claims the Trapeze software seems adequate and fits the needs, though they carry less than three passengers per hour. Marketing, Fares, Funding Sources, and Customer Satisfaction METRO regards the general public demandâresponse transit service as simply another multi- modal service offered within the agencyâs family of services. Significant public outr e a c h efforts were made when the service was introduced on a pilot basis in March 2015, with addi- tional efforts made during the subsequent 2 years. One market that was not originally expected to be prominent but that was soon identified and served was schoolchildren. The selected zone had a series of apartments and schools with limited sidewalks and lighting and with deep open drainage ditches between the two, along with a non-contiguous street network making getting to and from schools somewhat dangerous and difficult for students. METRO officials believe it is important when providing general public DRT service to hire operators with demandâresponse experience. They believe drivers with such experience have a better understanding of how the service should work and of the needs of people using general public DRT as well. To increase the chances of providing a smooth transition for passengers using the new service, existing staff operating the ADA on-demand service in the area were on-boarded from the previous contractor. This hiring action represented a different type of marketing and customer awareness, one that recognized and accommodated the operational needs of the people they served. Because the types of vehicles used in the Flex zone service are also used in fixed route revenue service, METRO accepts the same forms of fare payment for general public demandâresponse transit service as for fixed route bus service. The same transfer policies apply as well. Because METRO accepts the same forms of fare payment and offers the same transfer policies and because all the vehicles are wheelchair accessible, there have been no complaints filed in terms of equity issues. METROâs DRT service is funded from the same source of revenues that support all of METROâs operations. Fixed route bus service is still provided in this Flex zone (see the follow- ing section on performance metrics). Surveys show that customers who ride each mode favor the service they ride, but the customer satisfaction ratings for the general public demandâresponse service are significantly higher than for the fixed route bus service. The feedback from the cus- tomers who use the DRT service has been overwhelmingly positive. In addition, the feedback from those citizens who have not used the service ranged from skeptical to initially strongly opposed, but the agency reports there is evidence of growing interest in communities that had originally rejected the service concept outright. Performance Metrics The performance data for METROâs lone DRT Flex zone service reflect low utilization and high costs, but it is important to note the unusual circumstances affecting the performance. Following implementation, the most significant problem affecting the DRT service has been the
Case Examples 55 decision to retain the previously existing poor-performing fixed route bus service. The agencyâs intent was to eliminate that fixed route, but unforeseeable external political factors have pre- vented that from happening. The odd and ironic result is that an area that was not particularly supportive of transit service ended up with twice as much service as it had before. The result of offering both types of services in an area of relatively low population, low employment, and poor infrastructure has been an expansion of inefficient services in the Flex Zone. Consequently, it is difficult to determine what the productivity of the DRT service could be without the retained fixed route service. The performance of the DRT service in its current circumstances is provided in Table 6. The number of passengers per service hour, ranging from 2.19 to 2.5 depending on the day of the week, is not as high as the agency would like and the cost per passenger trip, which ranges between $20 and $30, is also higher than desired. The failure to eliminate the existing poor performing fixed route bus service has prevented the general public demandâresponse transit service from being a successful business case in the judgment of METRO staff. However, the political factors that have necessitated the retention of redundant fixed route bus service along with general public demandâresponse transit service are significant and unlikely to be resolved in the next few years. The efficiency figures have been further depressed due to the agencyâs decision to manage the service like the preexisting paratransit demandâresponse service with zero denials. This policy has resulted in requiring additional vehicle hours of available service for relatively minimal demand. As part of Houston METROâs System Reimagining Plan, METROâs board of directors approved a coverage service category that is not subject to the same performance metrics as METROâs two ridershipâbased service categories. Hence there were no pre-established per- formance metrics for this service against which to compare current performance. Efforts are Subsidy Total per Boarding ($) Annualized Passenger Boardings Annualized Fare Revenue ($) Annualized Total Cost ($) Operating Ratio (%) Boardings per Revenue Mile Boardings per Revenue Hour 344 Acres Homes Community Connector WK 43,988 25,831 1,314,248 29.29 2.7 0.34 2.50 344 Acres Homes Community Connector SA 4,817 3,171 112,863 22.77 3.0 0.30 2.19 344 Acres Homes Community Connector SU 3,776 2,184 79,512 20.48 3.0 0.32 2.35 Average GREEN (Coverage) Route 8.87 7.5 1.26 15.40 Note: WK = weekday, SA = Saturday, and SU = Sunday. Comparison of Community Connector Service to Existing Coverage Service Table 6. FY 2017 Performance data for Houston METROâs DRT Flex route.
56 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice under way to try to implement a second general public demandâresponse transit service in an area that does not have fixed route bus service. It is hoped that this will prove to be a successful business case. Lessons Learned When METRO was asked what were the most valuable lessons they learned that they would want to share with other agencies considering establishing similar services, staff provided the following advice. They learned two key lessons in their process of planning and providing DRT service. The first lesson is to offer a pilot demonstration so that skeptics and critics have the opportunity to examine the concept in the field. METRO presented the concept first and found that it was difficult for customers and potential customers to translate the description of the con- cept into an understandable and potentially positive experience. The second lesson is to discon- tinue redundant fixed route bus service when the DRT service has started. The external, and now internal, politics of discontinuing the fixed route bus service in the current Flex zone has been sig- nificant. Most likely, discontinuing the fixed route bus service will not be addressed in the future. Sacramento Regional Transit District Background and Setting SacRT operates in a service area with a population of more than 1 million people. The agency carries approximately 24 million passengers a year in over 300 vehicles of different modes. It is the public transportation provider for the capital of California. While the state offices are located in downtown Sacramento, sprawl and many lower density communities character- ize the region. For years, SacRT has provided a dial-a-ride service known as the âCityRideâ shuttle in Citrus Heights, a city of approximately 86,000 people located outside Sacramento but within the SacRT service district. The CityRide shuttle offers curb-to-curb service to any des- tination within the boundaries of the City of Citrus Heights and to two local medical centers. CityRide used 30-foot cutaway style vehicles and operated from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, carrying approximately 8,000 passengers per year and averaging 30 passengers a day. The service opened to the general public, and the regular SacRT basic and discount fares applied. CityRide connected to SacRT fixed routes, but there was no direct connection to the Folsom Light Rail Station. SacRTâs mission is to promote and improve access by providing safe, reliable, and fiscally responsible transit service that links people to resources and opportunities. Agency staff and board members wanted to know more about the microtransit concepts that had been getting much atten- tion as a potentially more efficient method of serving lower density areas. After connecting with TransLocâs representatives during APTAâs annual conference in October 2017, the SacRT team moved quickly to contract with TransLoc to perform a simulation and a 6-month pilot of their microtransit technology on the CityRide services. The CityRide services already had an existing customer base and an even stronger potential to influence a broader audience to use public transit. Planning and Design of DRT Services TransLocâs predictive modeling approach provided SacRT with a simulation report leveraging big data to help answer how microtransit services would be most successful in the region. Figure 10 shows how long passenger trips would take depending on the number of vehicles placed into service and the time of day of the trips. This was only one of many projections the technology
Case Examples 57 company presented to SacRT that allowed the agency to gain a better understanding of the nature of the service that could be provided and what resources would be needed to achieve certain service goals. After reviewing significant amounts of simulation data, the SacRT staff developed a pilot project to transform CityRide into a new and improved âSmaRT Rideâ service (Figure 11). There was no market analysis performed as practiced at Denver RTD. The target market was SacRTâs current dial-a-ride customers (approximately 3,500) and residents of the City of Citrus Heights. The intent of implementing the SmaRT Ride microtransit on-demand service was to demonstrate the feasibility of developing a technology-based service that connected more people to more places when they wanted to travel without the need for a personal auto- mobile. SmaRT Ride on-demand microtransit service was designed to complement SacRTâs fixed route service with more complete network connections and to serve as a test to see if the service could help SacRT meet future growth demands of the region and the ever-changing shifts in travel patterns. Source: Data provided by SacRT and TransLoc. Figure 10. Ride time detail based on different scenarios of ridership and number of vehicles for Citrus Heights and Citrus HeightsâOrangevale.
58 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice The ambitious goals of the SmaRT Ride On-Demand Transit service project were identified as follows: â¢ Further test the viability of the microtransit concept. â¢ Deliver coverage to underserved, disadvantaged, less-dense communities and provide connections to the rest of the SacRT system. â¢ Leverage capital funding sources available to SacRT as the fixed route transit operator in Sacramento County to provide neighborhood-friendly buses. â¢ Provide service that is accessible to persons with disabilities and provide a new alternative to traditional paratransit service. â¢ Deliver quality customer service through background-checked, drug-tested, fully trained vehicle operators. â¢ Develop and share a series of microtransit best practices that can be replicated by other public transit operators in the nation. â¢ Provide service that is more efficient than traditional dial-a-ride (as measured by passengers per hour), while generating information and data on ridership patterns and the need for future regular transit service, including fixed route expansion opportunities, that take people where they want to go. â¢ Gather feedback on how the region would prefer to allocate transit resources, understand- ing that although microtransit cannot achieve high ridership relative to fixed route service standards, it provides flexibility and convenience, which are highly desirable to many riders. Providers of Service and Vehicles Used SacRT is utilizing its own equipment and personnel from its Community Bus Services (CBS) Division to provide the service. The most important factors are flexibility and availability of both resources and the fact that personnel are familiar with the service area. Because of the small size Source: SacRT Powerpoint presentation to peer transit agencies on June 14, 2018. Figure 11. The areas identified by SacRT to conduct the first pilot microtransit services.
Case Examples 59 of the CBS Division (34 operators), it was not an issue to train all of them to operate the new SmaRT Ride service. Utilizing their own personnel also avoided any disputes with their union. The bargaining unit was cooperative. Operator work rules and training on equipment agree- ments applied as customary with other SacRT scheduled service. Because the project was to run as a 6-month pilot, it might have been difficult to find private contractors that would make the investments necessary with such uncertainty about its longevity. In addition, while the agency wants to utilize technology similar to that available to TNC services, the agency also wants to ensure passengers that the drivers of their public microtransit service are completely vetted and safe. SmaRT Ride uses the same 27-foot wheelchair-accessible cutaway minibuses as those used for the prior CityRide service, but the minibuses have been re-branded to emphasize the tech- nology associated with SmaRT Ride. The new service was launched with contemporary branding on February 12, 2018 (Figure 12). Technology Utilized As SmaRT Ride, the name of the microservice, implies, SacRT wanted to emphasize the technology associated with the service. SmaRT Ride represents an app-based way for riders to schedule their on-demand trip by using a smartphone or a computer. By downloading the free microtransit app from the App Store or Google Play, customers no longer need to call a day in advance to schedule a ride or ask where their bus is. They can simply choose their pickup time and location, then track their bus in real time using a smartphone or computer. To ensure that SmaRT Ride service is accessible to persons who may not have access to a smartphone or computer, dispatchers are available to accept phone reservations. SacRT believes that providing customers with real-time vehicle location information lends added convenience and reduces anxiety about arriving to their destination on time. Similar to other ride-hailing models, the minibus picks up riders wherever they are and takes them where they want to go in the desig- nated service area, including work, school, medical appointments, shopping, dining, and enter- tainment venues. SacRT operators and dispatchers adopted the new scheduling software technology quickly. The agency believes it is easy to use and intuitive. Operators obtain trip information using an iPad, which provides pickup and drop-off information with step-by-step navigation. There is no longer a need to carry paper manifests, which become obsolete almost immediately upon the start of the service day due to customer cancellations. The system provides the operator with the name of each customer scheduled and can also include a note about the customerâs needs or special circumstances. Figure 12. SmaRT Ride minibus.
60 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice SacRT reported that dispatchers also took to the new scheduling software by TransLoc quickly, favoring it over the previous scheduling software that did not allow for ridesharing or for the re-batching of trips throughout the service day. The microtransit scheduling app tracks trips and is tied to a scheduling software program based on algorithms that rapidly build flexible and efficient transit routes to accommodate incoming trip requests. With the new scheduling software, customer cancellations do not negatively affect the operator or the remaining sched- uled trips. The system manages trips coming in and out of the system on a real-time basis, which allows the agency to maximize resources. Operators and dispatchers were trained on how to use the software in 1-hour sessions. Before launch date, operations personnel ran simulations of trips with the operators and dispatchers so they could test the system before going live. SacRT claimed that, by launch date, all involved personnel were excited about the new technology and the prospect of providing greatly improved service and convenience to customers. Through extensive outreach, SacRT was able to migrate former CityRide (dial-a-ride) cus- tomers to the new SmaRT Ride mobile app, which feeds TransLocâs proprietary scheduling software and allows SacRT to efficiently schedule trips. The app allows customers to track their approaching ride as well as monitor the progress of their trip using their smartphone or tablet. The app will also notify the rider when approaching the final destination. The agency claims these amenities provide convenience and encourage adoption by new riders, many of whom have probably become accustomed to ride-hailing apps and expect this type of innova- tive service. In the first 8 weeks of the pilot project there was a substantial jump in the use of the mobile app versus phone reservations. This pattern has been continual since the start of the SmaRT Ride service (Figure 13). SacRT paid TransLoc $25,000 for the technology used to provide the automated scheduling and reservations system that makes the microtransit service attractive to the public, as well as providing other reports for SacRT. The $25,000 only covers the expenses for the first 6 months. The cost of this particular software is based on the number of licenses needed for each vehicle in service. Licenses cost $400 to $500 per month per vehicle. SacRT reports that this system operates âon the cloud,â so there is no additional information technology involvement required. If SacRT is satisfied with how the service works, it will move forward to procure the software permanently. Marketing, Fares, Funding Sources, and Customer Satisfaction SacRT developed a strategic marketing plan, and in January 2018 staff began the outreach pro- cess to inform the public of the new service. The outreach plan included multiple press releases, articles by local media outlets, extensive media coverage (all major media outlets attended the Source: SacRT Powerpoint presentation to peer transit agencies on June 14, 2018. Figure 13. Ride reservations made by phone and through the app.
Case Examples 61 launch event), and community outreach, which included presentations and staffing booths and the creation of a movie theater ad to reach thousands of potential customers, stakeholders, and community members. The microtransit pilot program was also covered in various industry trade magazines. SacRT reached out to 3,500 existing registered CityRide customers. Two weeks before the launch of SmaRT Ride, SacRT phone reservationists notified customers calling in to book CityRides about the improved and enhanced SmaRT Ride service. SacRT believes the combined efforts to notify CityRide customers and the additional outreach helped make for a smooth transition from the old system to the new. As part of the promotion, brochures were distributed that included a complimentary pass to try SmaRT Ride. The brochures were distrib- uted to Citrus Heights community centers, libraries, and schools. In preparation for SacRTâs first truly dynamic microtransit service, the agency created all new branding, which included shuttle bus wraps to allow customers to easily identify their vehicle. The strategy was to create a whimsical design in colors that would grab the attention of not only a customer but also the general public to peak interest. The artwork was also replicated on sup- porting materials to further promote the service and branding. To commemorate the start of SmaRT Ride service, SacRT in partnership with the city of Citrus Heights hosted a press conference and a celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony on the project launch date of February 12, 2018. The agencyâs website has a prominent page dedi- cated to the new service (http://www.sacrt.com/apps/smartride/) with complete instructions on how to use the app and ride the service. The same SacRT fare structure that applies to the agencyâs bus service applies to SmaRT Ride services. Regular fares are $2.75 and $1.35 for seniors, people with disabilities, and students. The agency provides customers a 90-minute free transfer if a pass is purchased through the mobile fare app ZipPass or a ConnectCard, which are both good on all SacRT modes of transportation (SmaRT Ride, bus, and light rail). A daily pass can be purchased for $7.00 and $3.50 for those eligible for discounts. The same fare media (cash, passes, or electronic fare media) accepted on all SacRT services are accepted on SmaRT Ride vehicles. Given the common fare system, the accessibility of all the minibuses, and the fact that all areas within the zone are equally accessible, there have been no equity issues raised during the pilot project. Ridership on SmaRT Ride grew slowly in its first month of operation, averaging fewer than 40 passengers a day. However, ridership picked up noticeably in the second month of the project to average more than 60 passengers a day, with a high of 96 passengers on April 5, 2018. The agency summarized the early findings as follows: â¢ 397 unique devices downloaded and opened the microtransit app in the Sacramento area. â¢ 295 unique users requested and completed SmaRT Rides (27% of those riders booked through the app). â¢ Daily boardings trended up. â¢ Easy-to-use app, easy to transition to. â¢ Adopted by new customers. â¢ No trip denials, and fewer trip cancellations and no shows. â¢ Easy for dispatchers and operators to operate. â¢ Access to useful data and statistics. â¢ Positive customer feedback. SacRT considered the pilot successful enough to expand the service in May 2018 to the com- munities of Antelope Creek and Orangevale, with a connection to the Historic Folsom Light Rail Station. In addition, due to demand, the service hours were expanded an additional 3 hours to
62 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice operate from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Ridership continued to grow as the service was expanded to the adjacent communities as seen in Figure 14. One of the most encouraging aspects of SacRTâs microtransit experiment is that the produc- tivity of the service has increased as supply has increased. Ridership per hour has increased from a level of 2.5 passengers per revenue hour after 2 months in Citrus Heights to a level of 3.6 after service was expanded to include Antelope Creek and Orangevale. Four more buses were added to the microtransit fleet, as shown in Figure 15. SacRT was particularly excited to see ridership increase to more than 4 passengers per revenue service hour during 1 week in June. As noted in Figure 16, the peak hours of demand are between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. TranLocâs scheduling software provides origin and destination information Source: SacRT Powerpoint presentation to peer transit agencies on June 14, 2018. Figure 14. Daily boardings for SmaRT Ride pilot project from February to June 2018. Source: SacRT Powerpoint presentation to peer transit agencies on June 14, 2018. Figure 15. Boardings per revenue hour for SmaRT Ride from February through June 2018.
Case Examples 63 for each trip. It appeared the service was used primarily to go shopping and to medical appointments. In the last month, Walmart in Citrus Heights was the number one destination with 121 trips. However, the trip destination with the next highest number of users is SacRTâs Historic Folsom Light Rail Station with 70 trips, which would suggest that commuters are also using the microtransit service. One area of concern is that passenger wait times are longer than the agency would like them to be. Wait time is defined as the time between the requested pickup time and the actual pickup time. For example, if a passenger books a ride at 1:00 p.m. requesting pick up at 1:30 p.m. and the minibus arrives at 1:45 p.m., the wait time is 15 minutes. If a passenger books a ride at 1:00 p.m. for immediate pick up (next available) and the minibus arrives at 1:45 p.m., the wait time is 45 minutes. SacRT does not provide the pickup time. The scheduling software provides an estimated pickup time. The software includes a notification via a text message of when the vehicle is on its way. As the service has expanded into new communities, the wait times are averaging approxi- mately 15 minutes (Figure 17). The agency has not yet adopted a policy for its wait times, but SacRT informs customers to book their trip during nonpeak hours if they want to reduce wait times and to book their trip an hour in advance if they plan to travel at peak times of the day. Source: SacRT Powerpoint presentation to peer transit agencies on June 14, 2018. Figure 16. Total ridership by hour of the day during May 2018. Source: SacRT Powerpoint presentation to peer transit agencies on June 14, 2018. Figure 17. Median wait time for passengers to be picked up for reserved rides.
64 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice At the conclusion of the pilot project, SacRT will determine opportunities for implementing the service in a number of other communities in its service area and intends to procure a permanent microtransit software solution. SacRT has developed concepts for additional microtransit service areas and intends to implement additional pilot routes before the end of 2018. To say that SacRT is excited about the potential of dynamic general public DRT would be an understatement. The agency believes microtransit has the potential to transform the future of public transit by enabling residents to hail rides on smaller, neighborhood friendlyâsized public transit buses in a manner similar to TNC services like Uber and Lyft. The agency also firmly believes the implementation of SmaRT Ride microtransit on-demand service offers their region a technology-based service that connects more people to more places when they want to travel without the need for a personal automobile. SacRT acknowledges that ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft are convenient, but they do not reduce the number of cars on the road, which affects traffic congestion and air quality. SmaRT Ride service is what they think offers an excel- lent balance by offering on-demand service that has the capacity to carry more people per vehicle than traditional ride-hailing services at an affordable cost that can encourage usage by new riders who have not considered taking public transit in the past. SacRT embraces the opportunity to provide a road map for other agencies to implement a similar type of service. The agency wants to serve as a trailblazer in the collection and reporting of ridership data by using TransLo-c technology for National Transit Database reporting. It is expected that the understanding gained by collecting origin and destination data to help plan future fixed route service will be used by other agencies. In addition, by testing this system, SacRT wants to be able to provide valuable feedback to TransLo-c so that they can refine and improve their app for use by other transit operators. SacRT has a number of goals as it expands SmaRT Ride On-Demand Transit service. They are as follows: â¢ Further test the viability of the microtransit concept in additional communities. â¢ Deliver coverage to underserved, disadvantaged, less-dense communities and provide connections to the rest of the SacRT system. â¢ Leverage capital funding sources available to SacRT as the fixed route transit operator in Sacramento County to provide neighborhood-friendly buses. â¢ Provide service that is accessible to persons with disabilities and provide a new alternative to traditional paratransit service. â¢ Develop and share a series of microtransit best practices that can be replicated by other public transit operators in the nation. â¢ Provide service that is more efficient than traditional dial-a-ride (in terms of passengers per hour), while generating information and data on ridership patterns and needs for future regular transit service that takes people where they want to go. â¢ Gather feedback on how the region would prefer to allocate transit resources, understanding that although microtransit cannot achieve high ridership relative to fixed route service levels, it provides flexibility and convenience, which are highly desirable to many riders. Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority Background and Setting The headquarters of the Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority (LYNX) are in Orlando, Florida, and operate in a service area that covers three counties and a portion of two other counties, with a population of approximately 2.4 million people. LYNX serves what is often referred to as the theme park capital of the world with Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea
Case Examples 65 World, and other smaller but popular venues in the region that attract tens of millions of tourists each year. A service economy and extreme suburban sprawl characterize the region. The transit agency carries more than 27 million passengers per year, with a fleet of 312 fixed route buses and 18 minibuses dedicated to providing general public demandâresponse service in 12 separate flex zones. LYNX established general public on-demand service in 2008 for the following reasons: â¢ The extreme suburban sprawl resulted in numerous communities of relatively low density that did not justify the continuation of fixed route services. LYNX wanted to replace low- performing fixed route bus services with less costly feeder services. â¢ Paratransit demand and expenses were escalating and made worse due to the deadhead mileage associated with providing paratransit services in the far reaches of their large (2,500 square miles) service area. LYNX wanted to transition as many paratransit customers as possible to fixed route transit service by transporting them in a less expensive manner to a fixed route transfer point. â¢ Some customers were unable to access fixed route services easily and safely due to various physical barriers, including canals, limited streetlights, and insufficient sidewalks. â¢ LYNX wanted to ensure that people in the peripheries of their service area had connectivity to the core regional fixed route services as well as access to important local destinations. LYNX was among the first transit agency in the nation that recognized the need for more cus- tomized service in communities with lower levels of demand. In 2007, the agency advised a number of such communities that it was no longer tenable for them to continue providing fixed route tran- sit and paratransit services in the manner they had been doing for years. Many of the residents in areas where fixed route service was proposed to be discontinued reached out to their local elected officials, asking for their help to keep some type of transit service available. The political will for providing a new type of flexible service was clearly evident. The communities and their leaders were not only accepting of a new type of service but many cities within the LYNX service area also agreed to fund these services when state or federal grant funding was not available. Planning and Design of Flex Zone Services In response to community concerns about the possibility of service being totally discontinued, LYNX staff initially met with community stakeholders in two communities. They determined that the primary concerns were from service employees/commuters traveling locally and those needing to connect with the regional bus network to complete their trips into the agencyâs core service areas. Historical data were used to identify the location and level of demand for previous service, while members of the communities provided additional input at meetings regarding the new service. Planning and operations staff members of LYNX worked closely together and determined that demand could be fulfilled by a community-based service using a smaller, more efficient vehicle operating in a dial-a-ride, curb-to-curb mode from the hours of 5:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Those hours reflect the needs of commuters to connect with other routes to complete their trips. LYNX staff determined that new flex zones should be established that would be approximately 5 to 7 square miles. They believed one vehicle would be able to accommodate up to six passenger trips per hour within zones of that size. The flex zone areas were defined by hard boundaries, such as road networks, waterways, residential communities, or fixed route connectivity. The on-demand service, initially dubbed âPickup Lines,â came to be called âNeighborLinkâ. Cutaway minibuses pick up passengers at their requested location and take them to any des- tination within the zone, including fixed route bus stops bordering the zone. There are now 12 NeighborLink routes serving communities within the LYNX service area (Figure 18). Customers can ask for the next available ride using the mobile application or can make advance reservations for a specific date and time. Reservations may be made up to a week in advance and are recommended to be made no less than 2 hours in advance unless the passenger
66 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice Figure 18. LYNX service area with NeighborLink flex zones in dark gray.
Case Examples 67 is coming from a fixed route transfer point, in which case no reservation is necessary. The cus- tomer must be waiting at the curb 5 minutes before the scheduled time. If the customer is not at the curb or not within view of the driver upon arriving at the pickup location, the trip will be considered a no show and the driver will continue on the route. If the customer is not at the curb but is within view of the driver and appears to be moving toward the vehicle, the driver will wait. Figure 19 is a screenshot from the website of how NeighborhoodLink works (https:// www.golynx.com/resources/pdf/WEB_LNX_PST_Msys_47x68_170329.pdf). To prevent customers from having to call daily to reserve trips, subscriptions for NeighborLink services for those traveling regularly to the same place at the same time/day each Figure 19. Example of LYNX Flex zone with NeighborLink service.
68 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice week are accepted. This helps reduce reservations call volume, helps reduce call hold time, and helps enhance customer ease of access and satisfaction. Subscriptions are not accepted for time frames where the requesting NeighborLink service is already at capacity. Customers who want to use NeighborLink are advised to use the mobile app or make reserva- tions using the website. Those who call a reservations agent are advised to call between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to have the greatest assurance of receiving on-demand service during those hours. Once capacity on a NeighborLink route has been reached for any given time frame (subscriptions have priority), customers are informed of such and asked if they can travel at a different time. The one hour negotiation window that is required for ADA paratransit services does not apply to NeighborLink services. As a public, curb-to-curb, transit option, NeighborLink does not have the same requirements as ADA paratransit services do. Service can be denied due to capacity, just as if a LYNX fixed route bus arrived at a bus stop and there was no space available on the bus for additional cus- tomers to board. Those customers would have to wait for the next bus to arrive. NeighborLink is a curb-to-curb service that meets the requirements of ADA. LYNX offers free travel training to any customer who wants to learn to ride NeighborLink. LYNX also reminds those who have used ADA paratransit service that, by using NeighborLink or fixed route services as opposed to ACCESS LYNX services, customers can save money in fares, have more freedom to travel spon- taneously, and not need to make a reservation by 5:00 p.m. the day before the trip. Demandâ response paratransit services overlay the Flex services for eligible paratransit customers. ADA paratransit services are provided for customers who cannot access a LYNX fixed route service. Providers of Service and Vehicles Used When the service was initially started with only a few routes, it was provided through LYNXâs paratransit contract. Since there was already an established demandâresponse contract in place, there was no need to complete a formal solicitation. After multiple routes were imple- mented, it was outsourced under a separate solicitation and contract. An RFP process was used to maximize competition among bidders and obtain the best service for the cost. The key perfor- mance indicators of the contract are missed trips, on-time performance, meeting connections, and cost. LYNX does not interact with the contractorâs bargaining unit. The vehicles used by LYNXâs contractor are 23-foot low floor buses with a capacity of 14 seated passengers and two wheelchair positions (Figure 20). They are produced by ARBOC manufacturer utilizing a Chevrolet G4500 chassis. These vehicles are equipped with automated vehicle location equipment but do not have automated passenger counters, because many trips Figure 20. Example of the ARBOC bus used by LYNX for its NeighborLink service.
Case Examples 69 Figure 21. Marketing brochure describing the NeighborLink transportation service and how to use it. are provided through reservations, while walk-ons are logged by the operator. LYNX is in the process of adding Wi-Fi to its demandâresponse fleet. Marketing, Fares, Funding Sources, and Customer Satisfaction NeighborLink services are marketed as an extension of the agencyâs fixed route system, includ- ing a coordinated time connection with fixed route services. Figure 21 is an example of market- ing material produced by LYNX to summarize and help market the service.
70 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice The same fare structure and fare media are used for both fixed route and NeighborLink ser- vices. Customers can pay with cash, daily/7-day/30-day passes, and now with smartphone mobile fare payment. A free transfer is issued between modes. Customers can call one telephone number for information on the entire family of LYNX services, and information for all services is on one website (www.golynx.com). In 2017, LYNX added a mobile app enabling passengers to make res- ervations without needing to talk with a scheduler. The agency wrote press releases, made videos available on their website and on YouTube that explained how to use the new reservation service technology, and provided information in the 12 communities that have NeighborLink service. In FY 2018, eight of the NeighborLink routes were funded in part through Section 5310 grants from the Federal Transit Administration, one route was funded in part through a Section 5317 New Freedom Program grant, and another route was paid for by a county outside the LYNX service area (Polk County). The remaining four routes were funded by local operating dollars, including funds contributed directly from cities within the LYNX service area. When low-performing fixed route services were replaced with NeighborLink Flex services, customers were initially hesitant to use the service. LYNX reports that over time, as customers learned to navigate the service, they have come to appreciate the convenience of this general public demandâresponse option. Technology Utilized The software initially used by LYNX to manage reservations for NeighborLink services was Trapeze PASS (paratransit scheduling software), but reservations needed to be requested the day before the service was needed. However, once trip volume and routes increased, the agency transitioned to Trapeze FLEX (Flex route scheduling software). This software allowed same-day reservations, but as trip requests increased, it became increasingly evident that this software was pushed to its limits. Just as significantly, the software still required agency personnel to take reservations and communicate directly with passengers. The software did not enable passengers to interact in an automated fashion or in real time with the services they were requesting. LYNX released a solicitation in August 2013 to seek a contractor to develop, integrate, dem- onstrate, and deploy a technology solution to provide on-demand transportation to riders in a point-to-point, shared-ride environment. The agency wanted a system that worked with GPS technology, with frequent updates on location for both the agency and the passengers, which allowed passengers to make automated reservations and did not require communicating with a dispatcher. The agency also wanted a system that generated data that could integrate with Excel databases and handle the collection and processing of data for the National Transit Database. Responders were required to demonstrate their proposed system in a pilot demonstration during spring 2014 as part of the solicitation process. A contract was issued to DoubleMap, Inc., in July 2014 to develop and deploy the system. The total cost for the research and development, equipment, maintenance and service for 3 years, and licensing for software customization associated with this project was $880,000. LYNX uses ruggedized tablets on their vehicles communicating through a cellular network. The locations of the vehicles automatically update every 3 to 5 seconds. Vehicle operators gain all the information they need to know through the tablets, which display the next five pickup and drop-off trips to be made. A chime sounds to let the operator know each time that a new trip is added to the electronic manifest. The operator can override the specific path if he or she knows of a more convenient and faster way to accommodate any given trip. The operator can also access Google Maps if necessary to assist in providing a passenger trip. The vehicle operator initiates an electronic âhonkâ on the passengerâs mobile device to let the passenger know that the vehicle will be arriving shortly.
Case Examples 71 An automated notice is sent to passengers that the vehicle is on its way and its progress can be viewed on a screen through the application. Other people with credentials that represent the passenger can also view the progress of the vehicle. In 2017, the agency had a smartphone app developed that allows customers to use the app to request, check on, or cancel a flex service trip. Customers without a smartphone may call a dispatcher to request a trip. A smartphone app was recently released by LYNX for the NeighborLink program, which has reduced the call volume (Figure 22). Passengers in the designated service area previously had to make a reservation via telephone at least 2 hours in advance of traveling. Phone reservations remain an option for people without smartphones. A reservationist provides the customer with the time that the NeighborLink vehicle will arrive. While vehicle operations and maintenance are outsourced to a contractor, reservations and dispatch services are handled in house. The training consists of new employees sitting with an experienced employee to learn how the software application works. The application is intuitive and does not require much training. Dispatch staff ride flex routes to understand the vehicleâs operation, learn the service area, and learn landmarks. LYNX provides the information below and guidance on its website to help people utilize the new NeighborLink app. Access https://www.golynx.com/tripapps for complete information. âLYNX has developed a mobile application that will allow NeighborLink customers to reserve, update, or cancel trips through the internet without having to call a phone representative. Cus- tomers will be able to see the location of their vehicle on the mobile application as it is dispatched for their pickup. Customers who still choose to speak with a phone representative will experience shorter hold times during busy call times as some choose to use the internet option.â The flyer shown on page 72 is available wherever LYNX printed materials are distributed (Figure 23). Performance Metrics As noted earlier, LYNX utilizes a private contractor to provide its Flex service. The agency was able to secure a favorable rate of $41.17 an hour through competitive proposals. The Neighbor- Link on-demand service carries 3.3 passengers per hour, which places it exactly in the middle Figure 22. Example of smartphone app (https://www.golynx.com/plan-trip/).
72 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice of the performance of other agencies identified in this report that provide such services. The cost per trip of $12.60 is among the lowest for on-demand services covered in this report and certainly well below the average of $23.56 (see Table 4). LYNX reported a farebox recovery ratio of 5% for their NeighborLink services. Ridership has remained relatively constant in some of the Flex zones, but the program overall experienced an increase in ridership of 8.5% in FY 2015. LYNX considers their NeighborLink on-demand service a vital component of the mobility network for central Florida. The agency was able to discontinue fixed routes with low ridership and high costs and convert to a less expensive way of meeting the demand that exists in a dozen communities in the outer portions of their extensive service area. They have also tran- sitioned customers from high cost ADA paratransit services to a service that is less expensive and provides customers with more options for mobility. While LYNX has not made significant changes to its Flex services in the last 11 years, the agency sees future opportunities under the LYNX FORWARD Route Optimization Study initiative, to include blended models of mobility Choose a stop. Figure 23. LYNX print flyer.
Case Examples 73 services to increase passengers per revenue hour while reducing costs per trip as they further explore and refine new mobility management principles. Lessons Learned LYNX shares the following lessons they believe might be useful for other transit systems as they embark on providing microtransit services. They are â¢ Effective communication with the community is essential to educate about microtransit services and how to use them. â¢ Subscription services reduce ridership of non-subscription customers. An additional agree- ment with TNC services to provide trips when NeighborLink vehicles cannot accommodate additional passengers can cover such trips relatively inexpensively. â¢ Technology to efficiently operate the flex services as ridership demand increases. â¢ The same fare structure and fare media as fixed route services used to reduce confusion and provide seamless transportation across modes. â¢ The service areas need to be of a size, in which services can meet customer and agency expecta- tions, particularly when using only one vehicle per zone. â¢ Time connections with fixed routes that border the flex zones need to be met. â¢ Free travel training for paratransit customers transitioning to flex services should be offered. â¢ A transit agency can replace low-performing fixed route services with less costly modes. Salem Area Mass Transit District Background and Setting The Salem Area Mass Transit District (known as Cherriots) is a small transit agency located in the northwest portion of Oregon. The name reflects the influence of the cherry-growing industry in the area. Salem is the capital of Oregon and is located approximately 50 miles away from Portland, the stateâs largest city. The population of the Cherriots service area is 236,632. The agency carried 3,637,866 in 2016 with 53 peak fixed route buses. Government is the largest employer in the service area. The primary motivation for attempting to institute general public demandâresponse transit was to find a service delivery model that would address a part of the city (West Salem) that is hilly and lacks sidewalks on many streets, making it difficult for many passengers to walk to or from bus stops more than just a short distance away. The street network is disjointed, with winding circuitous streets and many cul-de-sacs that make providing convenient fixed route service challenging. Large buses, which had been used to serve the area for years, are limited to running down the communityâs larger arterial streets. This route often required riders to walk uphill a long distance to get to or from bus stops. In addition, West Salem is one of the more affluent communities in the Cherriots service area, with a high level of car ownership. The agency believed that all these conditions made West Salem a good candidate for trying a new on-demand service that would be more convenient and attractive to people who would ordinarily use their own vehicle. The agency hoped the new microtransit service would not only be more popular but more efficient and less costly to provide than fixed route service. The pilot project utilized a single vehicle on an on-demand basis in the hope of boosting ridership in West Salem, a historically poor performing part of the Cherriots service area. The agencyâs board of directors was supportive of the pilot project. Cherriots had received complaints from residents of West Salem about large, noisy buses that ran mostly empty. The West Salem Connector launched as a 1-year pilot project on June 1, 2015. The Board of Directors of Cherriots then extended the pilot for a second year in June 2016. After the agency decided to replace the
74 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice circulator service with fixed route service, the pilot project was discontinued in November 2017. A single on-demand vehicle was no longer able to satisfy all trip requests within its duty cycle, but the expense of putting two on-demand vehicles into service would have exceeded the cost of re-instituting fixed route service that the agency ultimately believed made better sense. Planning and Design of On-Demand Services The West Salem Connector was regarded as coverage service in a relatively low demand area, with the primary goal of providing access to transit for those who needed it at the time they needed it to connect those riders with Cherriots fixed route buses. The agency also hoped an on-demand service would expand the reach of their services, making it more accessible to more people. Graduate students in Portland State Universityâs Master of Urban and Regional Planning program initiated the concept of providing on-demand service in West Salem as a capstone project (10). The team of students did most of the legwork to determine the needs in the community and the potential service solutions. Cherriots later hired one of the students as a transit planner and manager of the Connector project. The Connector service area was 2.38 square miles, a 31% increase in area covered by previous fixed routes serving West Salem. There had been 7,164 people within one-quarter mile of the sections of Routes 22 and 23 replaced by Connector service. With the Connector, there were 12,874 people within one-quarter of a mile walk of bus service, representing a 79% increase (Figure 24). Figure 24. Areas in West Salem served by the Connectorâs on-demand service courtesy of Cherriots. Unchanged service area is in gray, removed and replaced by fixed route service is indicated in red, and expanded service area is indicated in green.
Case Examples 75 The design of the service was not to be curb to curb. Customers could use the service anywhere within the designated zone and be picked up or dropped off at any of 26 specified loca- tions (green blue circles in Figure 24; see also Figure 25). Once staff determined the size of the zone, they used mapping software to generate a list of potential pickup and drop-off points. The software placed the minimum number of points required to ensure most houses within the service zone were within a one-quarter mile walk. Staff visited each site to ensure it would be accessible and a safe place to stop and prioritized locations near fences and hedges to respect the privacy of local residents. Limiting the number of pickup locations helped the vehicle cover more area within their cycle time, while still making the service available within just a few blocks of virtually all residents of West Salem. Complementary ADA paratransit was still available for those who could not use the on-demand service as designed. The Connector was a reservation-based, shared-ride transit service that operated Monday through Friday, 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Drivers picked up and dropped off riders in a 14-passenger accessible cutaway minibus. The path of the bus changed every hour based on demand. The only scheduled element of the system was at Glen Creek Transit Center, where the bus laid over for 5 minutes once an hour. This center was where riders could transfer to frequent bus service to downtown Salem. They could also walk on to a bus without a reservation for their return ride to West Salem. The Connector ran during the same hours as fixed route service. The fixed routes that had been in place in West Salem were not discontinued until 3 months after the introduction of the new Connector service. This transition period provided time for Figure 25. Areas within one-quarter of a mile of the Connectorâs pickup and drop-off points.
76 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice the bugs to be out of the system for the new on-demand service. The transition period also gave riders an opportunity to register and try the Connector before they made the transition permanently. Staff placed notices (Figure 26) on the poles of the fixed route bus stops being discontinued alerting riders of the upcoming changes. Those notices gave riders time to call in and ask questions about the new service. The Connector software limited the amount of time a rider would spend on the bus in the interest of improving the riderâs experience. When booking a trip, riders were given a âmax ride time.â This is the maximum amount of time the software would allow riders to spend on the minibus in any given trip. The maximum ride time was calculated by taking the direct drive time (how long it would take to drive directly between a riderâs pickup and drop-off points), Figure 26. Graphic display explaining how to use the Connectorâs on-demand service.
Case Examples 77 multiplied by 2.5, plus 5 minutes. When multiple walk-ons boarded at the Glen Creek Transit Center after they had transferred from fixed route bus service, this standard was not met. Surveys conducted by Cherriots showed that 74% of passengers transferred to Cherriots from the Con- nector. In all, 88% of trips started or ended at Glen Creek Transit Center, the primary transfer point to Cherriots fixed route bus services. When riders booked a trip, if the software could not give them their requested time, the soft- ware looked for alternative times. If there was no availability within an hour, the software gave the rider a trip denial. To determine the trip denial rate, staff divided the number of denied trips by the number of trips booked. The result was a rate of 1%, or 136 trip denials for 12,528 total booked trips. Providers of Service and Vehicles Used On the one hand, Cherriots staff estimated what the cost of providing the new service would be if they were to use their own agency personnel versus the cost of contracting for the service. The costs for using in-house personnel would include $78.49 per hour for personnel or $296,692 per year (based on 15 hours a day times 252 days a year), plus $71,710 for fuel for a total cost of $368,402 per year in operating expenses. In addition, Cherriots would need to buy two vehicles (since a spare vehicle would be necessary), which if amortized over 5 years would add an additional $28,000 per year for a total cost of $396,402 per year or $29.96 per passenger assuming the service would carry 3.5 passengers per hour. On the other hand, Cherriots had a contract in place for demandâresponse paratransit service that cost $65 an hour, which included fuel and vehicles that would cost a total of $246,000 per year or $18.59 per passenger. The Transit District already had a contract for the operation of its paratransit service, regional service, and enhanced service to seniors and people with disabilities. Existing systems for quality control, on-time performance, reporting, and other components were already part of the contract. Given the considerably lower cost and the ease of utilizing existing contracts for service, Cherriots decided to provide the new on-demand service through their contract for paratransit services. Cherriots chose to use retired cutaway paratransit buses that were well past their useful life (Figures 27 and 28). Maintaining the Connector vehicles cost over five times as much as main- taining their next oldest paratransit vehicles and sometimes affected service reliability. Figure 27. Vehicle that had been used by Cherriots for their on-demand service in West Salem.
78 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice The same union that provided Cherriots fixed route service but that operated under a sepa- rate contract with the private provider represented the labor for the private contractor used for the on-demand service. However, Cherriotsâ local union representing fixed route operators made it clear that once the pilot project was completed, there was an expectation that the service would come in house and operate with employees represented by the union if the service was to be continued. Because the pilot was discontinued, there is no way to know what might have happened had Cherriots challenged that assertion by their local union. Marketing, Fares, Funding Sources, and Customer Satisfaction The marketing and strategic communication departments of Cherriots conducted an exten- sive public education campaign to assist with making sure customers were ready to use the service. With fixed route service, a customer needs to know where the route runs, the schedule of the route, and the nearest bus stop at which to access the route. No communication was neces- sary to access the fixed route bus if that information was available. The Connector represented an entirely new way for people to access public transit in the community. With on-demand service, the customer would need to make a reservation to be picked up by the minibus serving the community unless the customer was accessing the Connector at the transfer point with the fixed route system. Customers were also advised that buses could approach from any direction, so riders might be expected to cross the street to board the bus. The following infographic pro- vides a step-by-step description of how passengers could use the new service (Figure 29). The infographic was posted on the Cherriots webpage. The infographic was also included on the route schedule and in the materials available at the Glen Creek Transit Center, where more than 80% of the Connectorâs passengers passed through. The target audience for marketing was the entire West Salem residential/business community and the riders who were using the fixed route services. Cherriots engaged in the following efforts to market the new service to include print, digital, and in-person interactions: â¢ Branded giveaways: Connector sunglasses, Lego phone accessory sets, and scrunch maps â¢ Giant Connect-4 game to use at outreach tables â¢ Showbiz event table â¢ Safeway and Starbucks outreach event in West Salem â¢ Ads in the West Side News â¢ Multiple newspaper articles â¢ Every-door direct mail to all West Salem residents â¢ Geofenced mobile ads â¢ E-mail blasts to Cherriots subscriber lists â¢ E-mail to all West Salem High School students Figure 28. The interior of a Connector bus that had been used by Cherriots.
Case Examples 79 Flyers describing the service were placed prominently in buses on fixed routes that were about to be replaced. There were explanations of the service at the Glen Creek Transit Center. People were encouraged to take postcards and return them to the transit agency in the event they wanted more information or wanted to request subscription service. Cherriots also utilized Facebook and Twitter to reach as many people as possible regarding the new service. Staff designed a foldable schedule for the Connector that fits in the schedule rack with all the other Cherriots routes. The Connector was also located on the foldable system map, on the detailed system map in the transit center lobbies, in the September 2015 Ride Guide, and as a route on the Cherriots.org website. The Connector operated fare-free for a 6-month promotional period. On December 1, 2015, the Cherriots fare was introduced on the Connector, allowing riders to seamlessly transfer to Cherriots routes. The Connector service used the same fare structure as the transit districtâs local fixed route service. Fares could be paid with cash, a day pass, a 30-day pass, or an annual pass. Cherriots did not use transfers, but the purchase of an all-day pass kept the cost of using both the Connector and other fixed routes services affordable. The source of funding for the on-demand Connector service was the property tax that funded all services provided by Cherriots. Figure 29. Infographic from Cherriots explaining how to access and use the Connector service.
80 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice The Connector service was well received by customers, as indicated in results of online and phone surveys of passengers administered by Cherriots in the winter of 2016â2017 after the service had been in place for 18 months. The results of those surveys are as follows: Overall Experienceâ55% Very Good, 32% Good, 9% Neutral, 4% Poor, 0% Very Poor Booking Experienceâ55% Very Good, 18% Good, 23% Neutral, 4% Poor, 0% Very Poor Courteousness of Driversâ68% Very Good, 30% Good, 2% Neutral, 0% Poor, 0% Very Poor Plan to Ride Againâ73% Yes, 23% Unsure, 4% No Recommend to Friends and Neighborsâ86% Yes, 4% Unsure, 10% No Technology The transit district used DemandTrans, a software developer for the transit industry. This company had worked closely with Denver RTD in the development of its software and tech- nology program. In working with Cherriots, DemandTrans was able to adapt the software to Cherriotsâ needs and make those improvements available to RTD as well. There were no federal funds used for the technology elements of the Connector service, and sole source procurements are allowed under Oregon procurement law for pilot projects. Customers could schedule trips from a smartphone, online, or by calling Cherriotsâ customer service line. There was no native iOS or Android smartphone app for the Connector service. Cherriots had a web-based booking page that scaled from desktops all the way down to smart- phones. When riders booked trips online or by calling Cherriotsâ customer service line, the MobilityDR software developed by DemandTrans automatically generated the trip manifest. The information was then relayed to the bus drivers via on-board tablets (Figure 30). When the service first started, passengers were advised to reserve their rides 1 hour in advance. Soon thereafter those who booked online could do so 30 minutes in advance, while those who called for a reservation could do so as little as 10 minutes in advance if the vehicle was nearby. The system was designed to deliver estimated time of arrivals to riders about 10 minutes before their minibus arrived. Those riders without technology had to be at their pickup points by the start of their 10-minute pickup window. However, for those riders with cell phones, text mes- saging, or e-mail, the advance notifications gave riders a precise awareness of when the minibus was going to arrive. Unfortunately, for much of the first year of the pilot project the advance notifications were often inaccurate. Many factors caused this, with the primary culprit being the driver interface. Up until May 2016, the driver interface was calendar-based instead of task-based. Drivers were Figure 30. Photograph of the on-board tablet.
Case Examples 81 able to see all their pickups and drop-offs on the screen, but it was not always clear when drivers should be at each pickup and drop-off point and in what order they should pick up and drop off riders. This led to issues with the accuracy of the estimated times given in the advance notifica- tions. Riders did not put great faith in the arrival estimates in the first year. The agency worked with the technology company to replace the calendar-based interface with a task-based interface with turn-by-turn navigation. This made the job of the driver simpler, allowing the driver to give more attention to driving and customer service. The new interface (Figure 31) also made pickup estimated-time-of-arrival notices accurate and reliable and opened up the possibility of reducing the advance reservation requirement to less than 30 minutes. Cherriotsâ staff also worked with the software provider to create a mass cancellation-and- notification system. This cancellation-and-notification system was developed for use during snow or ice events when the Connector was unable to serve some or all stops. Performance Metrics During the first year of the Connector pilot project, ridership averaged 50 boardings per day (Figure 32). An average of 3.3 passengers boarded each hour. There was lower ridership in the late morning and late evening hours of service, while ridership in the afternoon hours was well within the ridership target established by Cherriots. The Connector ran on time for 91% of the trips, with the remaining 9% of the trips running late. During the first year, on average, the difference between a riderâs requested trip time and the booked trip time was 2.6 minutes. Barriers to Providing On-Demand Service and Lessons Learned The primary barrier to maintaining the on-demand service in West Salem was the lack of capability to accommodate all the demand within certain duty cycles with just one vehicle. Ridership continued to increase in the second year of the service, and the areaâs physical chal- lenges made it difficult for the minibuses to navigate and respond timely to all requests during Figure 31. Example of a tablet providing the information needed by Connector service operators to respond to pickup requests.
82 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice certain hours. The number of times people had to wait 2 hours for their ride was increasing and becoming problematic. An additional vehicle was needed to avoid trip denials, but adding another minibus would have raised the cost of providing on-demand service to a level higher than the costs of serving the area with fixed route service. In April 2017, the board of directors of Cherriots voted to end the pilot by the end of the calendar year and directed staff to explore fixed route alterna- tives. Agency staff sought to create new fixed routes that provided a few more hours of service in the community. The new routes gave riders more certainty about when they could expect the bus to arrive, while also maintaining coverage so riders did not have to walk too far to get to the bus. Some residents asked for the Connector to remain in addition to the new proposed routes or for the new fixed routes to weave deeper into the neighborhoods. Most of the concerns centered on ridersâ abilities to walk to a bus stop or concerns about others being able to walk to a bus stop; on average, riders would have a bit further to walk to the new bus stops. However, staff made efforts to place bus stops at as many neighborhood entrances as possible to reduce walk time. Additionally, those who were not able to walk to the new bus stops still had the options of Cherriots Shop and Ride (Shopper Shuttle) and Cherriots LIFT (the paratransit service). Run- ning the fixed routes deeper into neighborhoods would be challenging with a 35-foot bus. In addition, those living on quiet neighborhood streets would rather not have a large bus traveling past their homes. It would also increase travel time for all the riders, who would have to loop through neighborhoods before getting to their ultimate destination. Therefore, staff thought it would be best to keep the buses on the main streets as much as possible. Figure 33 presents the final recommendations for modifying the service model in West Salem. Cherriotsâ staff received 173 surveys and four suggestions from transit operators. Of those who responded to the survey, the following responses were: â¢ When asked how respondents felt overall about the proposal, 63% responded somewhat or strongly liked the proposal, 12% felt neutral, 20% responded somewhat or strongly disliked the proposal, and 5% were unsure. Figure 32. Average boardings per revenue hour by hour of the day for Year 1 of the Connector service.
Case Examples 83 â¢ When asked how riders felt about the West Salem Connector, 45% had positive feelings about the Connector, 29% were neutral, 18% had negative feelings, and 8% were unsure. â¢ Of those who responded, 64% had ridden the Connector before, and 36% had never ridden the Connector. Given the agencyâs resource constraints, the cost to run both the proposed routes and to keep the West Salem Connector would have been cost prohibitive. Table 7 shows the cost differential in providing fixed route service in the area versus continuing to provide the Connector service. The cost figures for the West Salem Connector reflect what the agency was paying for contracted service. There is a good chance that if Connector service had been continued, the service would have been provided directly by Cherriots and the costs would have been significantly higher. The increase of $210,000 was largely a result of moving from contracted operators to in-house operators, though there were also some slight increases in revenue hours and miles Figure 33. Fixed route service chosen to replace the Connector demandâresponse service.
84 Microtransit or General Public DemandâResponse Transit Services: State of the Practice Change in Daily Revenue Hours Change in Daily Revenue Miles Estimated Change in Annual Cost â15.00 Varies â$246,000 +2.5 +$210,000 +16.2 +190.5 +$411,000 +0.8 +7.8 +$20,000 Status Route REMOVED West Salem Connector TOTAL Routes 26 & 27 Route 17 ADDED Route 16 +0.5 +27.3 +$25,000 Table 7. Cost estimates for replacing the West Salem Connector with fixed route service. on Routes 16 and 17. However, to add another on-demand vehicle would have cost even more on an annual basis. It is critically important to note that staff developed the proposed fixed routes, stops, and schedules by using travel pattern data collected from the West Salem Connector experience. In this way, the West Salem Connector on-demand service was a success in that it provided valuable information to inform transit planners how fixed route service can be designed to satisfy riders in the locations of highest demand. Service in the zone was expanded because of the knowledge gained through providing on-demand service, and the agency gained many additional passen- gers and contacts. While it might sound odd to consider a service that was discontinued a suc- cess, note that a benefit of on-demand service is that it helps to identify transit demand in an area. Note also that fixed route transit provides many advantages to passengers (e.g., certainty, consistency, and greater capacity) and, when planned properly, continues to be the viable form of transit in communities that can support it. This project demonstrated the fine-tuning and careful consideration that is needed during the transit planning process to ensure the best results for the communities being served.