Use Cases

Top 3 Ways Agencies Benefit from On-Demand Transit


Jess Blenkarn


4 minute read

Jess Blenkarn
4 minute read

Transit agencies in cities worldwide are working to meet residents’ transit needs and make best use of operating budgets. This is particularly a challenge in medium and low-density neighborhoods where fixed-route transit systems are costly due to low ridership demand, inflexible, and inconvenient. Riders are looking for service that is more personalized to their needs, while agencies need to find more efficient solutions.

This is where on-demand transit can help. On-demand transit provides three main benefits to both passengers and transit agencies:

1. Decreased Transit Costs

When agencies implement on-demand transit solutions, operational costs are more efficiently used, aligning with individual agency goals. Apps decrease stress on call centers and autonomously optimize schedules, which minimizes costs and increases efficiency. With more shared rides, agencies can increase realized farebox ratios while still enabling passengers to arrive at their destinations on time.

Transit on demand provides a more cost-effective service for Barrie Transit and a better level of service for transit riders in lower ridership areas.

— Brent Forsyth, Director, Barrie Transit

For example, when San Antonio’s VIA Metropolitan Transit replaced three underperforming fixed bus routes in low-density areas with an innovative on-demand solution, the agency experienced a 20% reduction in cost per passenger.

San Antonio's VIA Link shuttles.

Residents also benefit from the affordability of on-demand transit; in many cases agency savings are also passed onto the rider, reducing their cost per trip. Residents can decrease their reliance on personal vehicles and expensive ride-hailing services like Uber.

There is a shift toward people wanting to free themselves from responsibilities that aren’t a top priority — like owning a vehicle and maintaining it, especially in the city. What I think these services are doing is exposing that middle ground to the masses.

— Paul Supawanich, Transport Consultant, Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates

2. Improved Service Coverage

Residents in medium and low-density neighborhoods are often underserved by transit, as fixed routes do not provide the required coverage and ride-hailing services are often extremely expensive or simply unavailable.

With on-demand transit, however, coverage can be expanded in these neighborhoods and the level of service can be improved. Residents can be picked up at convenient virtual stops within the on-demand zone and travel to their destination or connect into existing transit services to travel even farther.

RideCo’s Microtransit Service Integrator enables coverage customization through a variety of use cases, including syncing trip pickup or drop off with existing transit hub schedules.

By adapting the routing of a vehicle and the stops it services, demand-responsive transit has the potential to find dynamical routes between stops with real-time demand while still providing coverage where needed.

— Willem Klumpenhouwer, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Toronto Transportation Research Institute

On-demand transit is being used in Calgary, Alberta to provide first-last-mile service between two northern communities and a transit hub, reducing walking time from 30 minutes to just four minutes and achieving a 4.9 / 5 star average customer satisfaction rating.

Residents in a low-density neighborhood in northern Calgary are shuttled to two transit hubs downtown through on-demand transit.

3. Increased Passenger Convenience

On-demand transit provides passengers with a reliable service close to their doorstep, rather than requiring them to walk long distances and wait at a traditional bus stop (as with fixed-route transit). Passengers walk to a nearby virtual stop and wait just a few minutes for their shuttle to arrive. From there, passengers are quickly transported to their final destinations, with guaranteed arrival times.

Simply access the app and say that you need a ride… It would tell you the time you can expect a ride to show up and where you need to be… We are keeping up with the times and offering the service in a way that meets need and is most economical.

— Jyoti Gondek, Councilor, City of Calgary

With guaranteed arrival times, on-demand transit passengers experience the reliability and convenience needed for their busy schedules.

Reliable and convenient service is available at the click of a button in an app, and trips may be pre-scheduled or booked on demand. For example, in Carlsbad, California, residents previously had to wait 60 minutes for their bus to arrive. After implementing on-demand transit, riders waited just 12 minutes and experienced a 98% on-time performance record.

More and more transit agencies are realizing the benefits of on-demand transit, including decreased costs, improved coverage, and increased convenience. With benefits like these, it’s no wonder investments in on-demand transit have tripled from previous years!

Contact us to learn more about how our service planning experts can help your agency decrease costs, improve coverage, and increase convenience.

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