RideCo On-Demand Transit Revolutionizes Legacy Dial-A-Ride in Houston and Grows Ridership 19%

RideCo
November 30, 2020
 - 
5 minute read

In Brief

  • The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) engaged RideCo to replace their inefficient legacy dial-a-ride manual booking and scheduling software and reduce the number of call center bookings for their Community Connector service by 20% in two Northeastern Houston suburbs.
  • Passengers use a mobile app to book a ride that is on-demand or pre-scheduled, are picked up at their door in 5-seat minivans, and dropped off right at their destination.
  • Despite launching in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this program achieved or exceeded all the primary goals of METRO, including reducing call center bookings by 66%. In addition, the service reduced wait times from 60 minutes to 10 minutes, achieved 98% on-time performance for drop offs, and reduced METRO’s cost per passenger by 21%.
  • Finally, this service has increased ridership by 19%. More METRO riders than ever before are choosing the RideCo-powered Community Connector to get around.

Background

METRO is a major public transportation authority in Houston, Texas that has an annual ridership of 58.2 million passenger trips across Houston and most of Harris County. Their fleet of 1,236 buses and 76 light-rail vehicles are routed through 21 transit centers and service 114 fixed routes.

The agency engaged RideCo to replace its inefficient legacy dial-a-ride software with our dynamic on-demand microtransit platform in a medium-density city outside of Houston and a low-density neighborhood in Northeastern Houston. Additionally, they wanted RideCo to provide service to walk-ons at designated stops.

The agency identified two zones in the greater Houston Region to pilot an on-demand dynamic route microtransit service. The RideCo-powered Community Connector service launched in Missouri City and Kashmere Gardens in September 2020. In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the number of passengers in each vehicle is limited to one.

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The Missouri City and Kashmere Gardens zones pictured here border Houston, Texas

Key Challenges

METRO’s legacy software required all trips to be booked through the call center and to be manually scheduled by the authority’s staff. The inefficient software encouraged high call volumes, limited access to customer service, and a poor passenger experience. Customers had to schedule all of their trips at least one hour in advance and could not track their vehicles. The legacy software featured inefficient routing and did not optimize for shared rides.

Modernizing Houston’s Dial-A-Ride Service

Our service model design team worked closely with authority staff and designed a point-to-point on-demand transit service in two distinct zones.

Customers can download the RideCo-powered Curb2Curb smartphone application for free through the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Our intuitive smartphone application helps passengers book their trips, track their rides, and see their drivers’ real-time ETAs. Riders receive SMS notifications when their vehicle is on its way and when it has arrived for pickup. All these features are also available to passengers on our browser-based booking website. Community Connector passengers can travel to and from any point freely within each of the zones. Riders are picked up in 5-seat minivans — some of which are wheelchair accessible.

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METRO's Curb2Curb app

Customers without access to a smartphone, computer, or tablet can still call METRO’s call center to book their trip. RideCo’s software enables call center reservationists to schedule trips on behalf of passengers on-demand in real-time. Alternatively, 16-seat cutaways provide walk-on service at fixed stops located strategically throughout each zone.

Passengers can pay for their fare with cash, a METRO Q® Fare Card, or METRO Day Pass.

With this app, operators will be able to onboard customers on their own… In the past they would have to call in over the radio and a dispatcher would have to schedule that trip for the driver and place it on the schedule. But this new service has allowed more freedom for the customer and more freedom for the operators to manage their own trips. — Michael Andrade, Director of Paratransit Services for METRO

The Benefits of a Modern On-Demand Transit Service for Houston METRO

This service launched in September 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and achieves 80%+ reductions in passenger wait times and demonstrates high customer satisfaction.

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Riders have experienced a >80% decrease in wait times

Our platform has changed the way METRO riders experience public transit. This service continues to see steady ridership growth and high passenger satisfaction rates, with more users booking their trips through our Passenger App.

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Since RideCo, overall ridership has increased by 19% while call center bookings have decreased by 66%

Modernizing this dial-a-ride service with the RideCo platform has reignited ridership for METRO’s Community Connector service and moves 130+ passengers every day — a 19% increase in ridership and a 21% decrease in the cost per passenger over the former legacy dial-a-ride service model. The RideCo solution works for METRO and its customers, and is portable to legacy dial-a-ride services all across the United States and Canada.

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METRO is experiencing improvements in all areas

Learn more about how RideCo modernized METRO’s legacy dial-a-ride service and the impact that our platform has in our most recent case study.

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