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Sacramento Debuts On-Demand Transit Service

Sacramento Regional Transit's SmaRT Ride service is an on-demand public option to compete with Uber and Lyft.
May 4, 2018, 12pm PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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California State Capital

"It's a radical notion in the public transit world, unheard of just a few years ago," Tony Bizjak writes. "But the concept of public shuttle buses that act more like Uber cars is about to become a growing reality in Sacramento, at least on a test basis."

While on-demand microtransit has a mixed history in the private sector, "Transit agency officials say the experimental service – called SmaRT Ride – has shown enough promise that they plan to expand it to nearly a dozen neighborhoods around the county over the next year [...]."

The concept is meant to counter steady ridership losses to companies like Uber and Lyft. "Riders summon the shuttle via phone app or a phone call. The buses arrive within a half hour, not nearly as fast as an Uber car might." But prices are more reasonable. "Riders pay the regular transit fee, $2.75 for a single ride, $1.35 for seniors."

Civic leaders in the area tout the service as a solution to the challenges of operating transit in suburbia. "Fixed-route bus service is less expensive for SacRT to operate, officials said, but on-demand shuttles can pencil out in areas where bus ridership is low and per-passenger costs are higher."

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