Infrastructure pros have a new buzzword: Microtransit.
You can think of “microtransit” as a swankier way of saying “publicly subsidized Uber Pool.” With bus and subway service running on empty because of COVID-19, microtransit projects are revving up.
The Los Angeles Metro system put $29m toward a partnership with RideCo to subsidize transit. Uber just snagged a 3-year contract in Dallas. Salt Lake City and Birmingham are rolling out their own experiments.
Startups like Spare Labs and Optibus — which can route buses in real time based on demand — are hoping to hitch a ride on the microtransit bandwagon.
Honey, I shrunk the metro
Now Lubbock is dabbling with microtransit. Residents can download a CitiBus On Demand app to hail a ride — it pings one of its fleet of roving vans heading in the general direction. The city promises that each van will arrive in under 10 minutes.
Don’t have a smartphone? You can call instead.
This hype train has been rolling for years
Transit stans point to studies from Boston Consulting Group showing that microtransit projects could cut traffic 15% to 30%.
But Wired recently pumped the brakes on some of their enthusiasm. Microtransit is expensive: During a pilot, the LA Metro spent 2x more on microtransit trips than on regular buses.