Use Cases

Comparing the 3 On-Demand Transit Service Models


Jess Blenkarn


4 min read

Jess Blenkarn
4 min read

For any agency that is considering implementing innovative on-demand transit in their community, it is important to determine exactly how it will be implemented. On-demand transit services typically fall into one of three models. These three models each have unique applications and benefits and should be thoroughly understood by agencies during the planning stages of implementation.

Model #1: Point-to-Point

This service model enables unrestricted travel between two points within a defined zone. Passengers can be picked up and dropped off at either flex stops or their doorsteps depending on the passenger type.

For example, paratransit riders may need door-to-door service, while the general public can receive service at flex stops. Both passenger types can be commingled in one vehicle fleet using RideCo’s Microtransit Service Integrators.

While the point-to-point model offers a high level of flexibility and convenience, since riders can virtually go anywhere within the zone, it is the least efficient of all three service models. This is because the zones are larger and the travel patterns are more distributed; however, it is still more efficient than a fixed-route service, and it enables shorter walking distances for passengers.

This type of service is currently used in San Antonio, where the agency’s cost per passenger was reduced by 20% after replacing three underperforming fixed-route buses with point-to-point on-demand transit.

“[RideCo’s on-demand transit] has proven to be a true game-changer … The service has been tremendously successful as a flexible travel option that helps us become more efficient and provides connections to the places our customers go.

— Jeffrey C. Arndt, President and CEO, VIA Metropolitan Transit

The point-to-point model is currently used in San Antonio and is achieving impressive results.

The point-to-point model is currently used in San Antonio and is achieving impressive results.

Model #2: First-Last-Mile

In this service model, riders are picked up at one of a few flex stops in a defined zone, but instead of riders being able to go to any other flex stop in the zone like in point-to-point, riders can only go to a single defined stop, usually a transit center.

This service is intended to help riders connect to an existing transit service, which would then take them to their actual final destination. It is defined as restricted service to or from a particular point of interest.

While this type of service limits flexibility because there is only one possible destination, it maximizes efficiency because everyone is going to the same place at the same time. With RideCo’s Time Snapping feature, we are able to align the on-demand transit drop-off at the transit center a few minutes before the fixed-route bus or train leaves the station. This ensures there are low wait times and that everyone arrives at their final destination on time!

First-last-mile is currently being used in two newly-developed Northern Calgary communities: Carrington and Livingston. A few flex stops act as pick-up and drop-off points in these two communities to connect residents with a light rail station. Residents loved the service so much they rated it at an average of 4.9/5 stars!

We’re excited about this app. … We are keeping up with the times and offering the service in a way that meets need and is most economical.

— Jyoti Gondek, Councillor, City of Calgary

While this service model reduces flexibility, it is the most efficient!

While this service model reduces flexibility, it is the most efficient!

Model #3: Hub and Spoke

The third service model is a hybrid approach, combining the benefits of point-to-point and first-last-mile. The model consists of three or four popular first-last-mile destinations that passengers can travel to, such as transit centers, medical facilities, or shopping malls, as well as including a point-to-point option for passengers that want to travel anywhere else inside the defined zone.

Travel to the popular destinations is prioritized, however, meaning that passengers traveling door-to-door or from flex stop to flex stop will have longer wait and on-board times.

This is a highly efficient service that gives passengers the flexibility they need to go anywhere in the defined zone on-demand. Our Microtransit Service Integrator enables our ability to mix passengers going to flex stops or to popular destinations like shopping malls or transit centers in the same vehicle fleet.

Hub and spoke combines the benefits of both point-to-point and first-last-mile.

Hub and spoke combines the benefits of both point-to-point and first-last-mile.

While these are standardized service models, at RideCo, we are able to customize your model based on your agency’s goals and objectives. We can create a service model that will meet your needs using our innovative Microtransit Service Integrator and our dedicated planning team.

Contact us to learn more about the three basic on-demand transit service models and how we can help adapt them to meet your agency’s needs.

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