Thought Leadership

3 Steps to Implementation of On-Demand Transit in Your Community

Jess Blenkarn
June 9, 2021
 - 
4 min read

Investments in on-demand transit technology are exponentially growing, with the mobility on-demand market expected to exceed $250 billion USD by 2026.

This growth results from agencies’ increasing understanding that on-demand transit technology is able to solve both resident and agency challenges surrounding cost, coverage, and convenience.

There is also the added benefit that an on-demand transit solution is extremely easy to implement, whether your agency is looking to replace an existing service or provide additional coverage within your network. Here are the three steps you can take to implement on-demand transit in your community:

1. Understand Your Agency’s Broader Goals and Objectives

Start by analyzing data and customer feedback to learn where your transit service can be improved.

Some common challenges that we have seen from agencies include:

  • Cost: fixed-route buses driving around empty are too expensive to run
  • Coverage: medium- and low-density neighborhoods typically do not have sufficient public transit access
  • Convenience: call centers are overwhelmed, budgets are strained, and ridership is down

The first step, therefore, is to define your macro-level agency goals and objectives, whether it is to decrease costs, increase coverage, improve convenience, or a combination. It is important to understand where your agency is headed before you determine how to get there.

For example, through analyzing data, Houston METRO determined that one of its larger goals was to increase convenience for riders by providing more options for booking and reducing call center volumes.

Houston METRO had a mix of cost, coverage, and convenience goals.

2. Determine Your Agency’s Specific Goals and Objectives

Once you know the macro-level goals your agency is hoping to achieve, it is time to outline the specific KPIs that matter most to you. These could include:

  • High on-time performance
  • High productivity (passengers per vehicle hour)
  • Short wait times at virtual hubs
  • Short walking distances to virtual hubs
  • Short on-board times
  • Increase in ridership
  • Reduction in call center volume
  • Reduction in cost per passenger
  • High customer satisfaction
  • Decrease in required transfers
  • Reduction in vehicle miles traveled
In order to enhance on-time performance and service reliability, operators should be working closely with new/alternative mobility service providers to provide customers with the greatest flexibility and reliability, while keeping costs manageable.

— Senior Executive, Metrolinx, Canada

With these specific goals in mind, you can thoroughly understand what on-demand transit success will look like for you. We understand that every agency and service has its own unique goals and objectives, and it is important to fully define yours.

For example, during this step of implementation, Houston METRO defined the specific amount by which they wanted to reduce call center volumes. While they initially wanted to reduce volumes by just 20%, they were actually able to reduce them by over 60% with RideCo’s on-demand transit.

Houston METRO set specific KPIs, and RideCo was able to surpass them.

3. Select a Partner, Not a Provider

You shouldn’t simply select an on-demand transit provider that will give you the software and leave you to implement it on your own. You should select a provider that partners with you to help you further define your agency goals and objectives as well as your specific numeric KPIs.

At RideCo, we collect data on your ridership base, demographics, road networks, traffic patterns, required driver breaks, and more, to help you visualize potential service zones and virtual hubs. We even simulate a real-world service with anticipated demand and trip patterns to help you fully understand how the service would operate.

I really do think that transit agencies are interested in embracing these new things. If they do consider them a partner versus a competitor, it could increase their options in terms of providing service.

— Paul Supawanich, Senior Associate, Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates

It is also important to select a partner that has a proven record of achieving your measures of success. For example, if on-time performance is your most important KPI, select a partner that has case studies and demonstrations proving their ability to exceed on-time performance goals.

Also ensure you select a partner that has experience in many different on-demand transit use cases. If you start with a first/last mile solution and want to add on-demand to your paratransit service as well, you will want to be partnered with a provider that can do both.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you take the first step toward implementation of on-demand transit in your community.

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