DRPT applied for and received an Integrated Mobility Innovation (IMI) Demonstration Research Program Grant to plan and implement microtransit in two rural areas in the Commonwealth. DRPT collaborated with two rural transit providers: Bay Transit and Mountain Empire Older Citizens (MEOC). These providers received grant funds to procure and operate microtransit, branded as Bay Transit Express and METGo!, respectively, using a Software-as-a-service model. The microtransit demonstration projects have been operating for 18 months and are reaching a point of transitioning from the temporary IMI grant funding to 5311 operating funds.
The purpose of this study is to summarize the findings of the rural microtransit deployment project, develop an operational sustainability strategy, and prepare an implementation toolkit for other rural transit agencies interested in launching and operating microtransit services of their own.
Three unique interview and discussion guides were created to structure conversations and solicit targeted feedback related to both microtransit services. These guides included:
- Stakeholder (including DRPT staff, transit managers, and community stakeholders)
- Bus Operator / Dispatcher
DRPT, Bay Transit, and MEOC provided the consultants with contact information for agency directors, bus operators, dispatchers, riders, and other community stakeholders.
Using the discussion guides, the consultants conducted the interviews during January 2023.
- Pilot gave agencies courage to try microtransit
- Ridership growth in both services, resulting in additional vehicles and expanded service zones
- Safe, affordable, reliable, and accessible service available on-demand
- Many riders need outreach/education to become comfortable booking via smartphone app
- Demand for longer hours of operation: earlier in the mornings, later into evenings, and on weekends
- Need for more vehicles and drivers to ensure driver satisfaction and maintain quality of service
- Perform feasibility studies for new services to identify fleet requirements and gauge community interest
- Ensure buy-in from local governments, and include stakeholders and partners on steering committees
- Market the service locally through all available media (e.g., public access, social media, newspaper, flyers, websites, and word of mouth)