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Public transport agencies trial mixed fleets to implement local on-demand transport

February 22 / Europe

Post-pandemic, public transport has experienced driver shortages and difficulties procuring vehicles. Agencies are getting relief by adding flexible supply to their on-demand operations.

Learn how transit agencies and rail operators complement their services with on-demand operations, including a mixed fleet of dedicated vehicles and non-dedicated service providers like taxis and ride-hailing (such as Uber).

Answering to constantly changing needs of local communities

In Texas, the Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), a multimodal public transport agency comprising 13 suburban and rural cities, has worked with Uber in its demand-responsive transport (DRT) zones since 2019. As of 2022, DART provides one of the largest microtransit services in the US with 30 unique zones with ETAs of 15 minutes or less.

They have been able to achieve these service levels with only 36 dedicated wheelchair-equipped mini busses which comprise 70% of their on-demand trips. The remaining 30% of the trips are fulfilled through an Uber partnership. The hybrid approach used by DART has strengthened its operations as they are able to adapt to constantly changing needs that previously suffered from a lack of access to traditional public transport with fixed bus routes.

Additionally, the rides fulfilled using Uber are typically only one-third the cost of dedicated DRT buses or low-density fixed-route bus operations. This has enabled DART to reduce the costs of its fixed-route infrastructure by 30% from January 2022 and repurpose those buses and drivers to increase the frequency of their key fixed bus routes.

Rail operators making it easier to get from station to destination

It’s not only public transport agencies that innovate around seamless mobility. Several rail operators are developing new solutions to provide convenient door-to-door mobility for their customers. Both are struggling with having too many private cars on the roads but also to enable services where their own services cannot reach.

In South Florid, Brightline high-speed rail, recently announced a partnership with Uber where riders can book and pay for private or shared Uber rides when they book a train ticket directly on the Brightline app or on their website. Their premium fares also include a complimentary Uber ride anywhere within a 5-mile (approximately 8 km) radius. This has made getting to and from a train station much easier, minimizing customer wait times and placing customer needs at the core of the service experience.

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