On-Demand Transit Grows in Georgia

From small rural towns to metro Atlanta, Georgia communities are experimenting with on-demand transit to improve connections to existing transit and offer transportation to isolated communities.

2 minute read

April 20, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

MARTA bus with Atlanta skyline in background

MARTA's Reach program aims to put more transit options within passengers' reach. | Erik Gonzalez / MARTA Bus, Atlanta

“In the past 18 months, on-demand transit has launched across Georgia, from Atlanta to Valdosta to Gainesville,” writes John Ruch. “Advocates and critics differ on the details while agreeing on-demand has its place and its unknowns.”

“Providing fast, low-cost service for last-mile connectivity and other short trips has been difficult and it limits the appeal of transit as a mode of travel. If we can solve that problem with services like the Buc and MARTA Reach, we can make it much easier for people to choose transit,” said Jim Durrett, executive director of the Buckhead Community Improvement District (CID), which funded the Buc shuttle in that neighborhood.

Critics say on-demand transit is “inherently far less efficient than fixed-route buses,” making it “best suited to small-town, rural and suburban-sprawl areas” as an option for hard-to-reach areas with few other transit options. This is exactly how several small Georgia communities, such as Valdosta and Hall County, are using it. In a much larger city, Atlanta’s MARTA is exploring microtransit as a solution for other goals. “In metro Atlanta, two new on-demand programs are aimed at ‘last-mile connectivity’ for fixed-route transit riders, with the implication of boosting overall transit ridership.”

The next six months, writes Ruch, should provide a clearer picture of how effective on-demand transit programs will be in increasing ridership and bringing transit access to more Georgians.

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