When Microtransit Works as Public Transit, Explained

How to make Microtransit work. Hint: it's about coverage, not ridership.

1 minute read

August 30, 2019, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Chariot Shuttle

Your demand responsive transit awaits. | SFGate / Wikimedia Commons

Jarrett Walker writes to explain the pragmatic details of microtransit (which the Human Transit author and consultant prefers to call Flexible Transit, as revealed early in the article).

"Flexible transit means any transit service where the route vary [sic] according to who requests it," according to Walker. That means "the common terms demand responsive transit, on-demand transit and 'microtransit' mean the same thing."

So how should communities and transit agencies make flexible transit work as part of a publicly funded transit network? That is, how should transit agencies taxpayers are getting their money's worth when they devote public dollars to flexible transit operations? One of Walker's main assertions might surprise: "flexible transit makes sense only if ridership is not the primary goal of a service."Transit systems balance competing needs of ridership and coverage, according to Walker, and flexible transit is devoted to the latter.

Last year, Walker wrote a series on Microtransit devoted to dispelling notions derived from the novelty of the concept and to cautioning transit agencies from sinking too many resources into the new technologies promising to change the nature of transit.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019 in Human Transit

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