Microtransit: What I Think We Know

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Microtransit: What I Think We Know

Jarrett Walker, author of "Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich our Communities and Lives," writes about the costs and benefits of microtransit on his blog, "Human Transit". Walker is skeptical of Microtransit. He argues that it is spacially, economically, and fiscally inefficient and should only be used in very rare and specific cases.

Key findings

   Flexible transit is time inefficient. It meanders and picks up/ drops off at customers exact requested locations.-Fixed route is more time efficient especially for people travelling through a corridor. Each stop takes less time because customers walk to the route and collect at a few stops. More customers find the route useful.

   Few [flexible transit options] carry more than 4 customers per driver hour. In suburban settings, fixed route buses rarely get less than 10, and frequent fixed route services usually do better than 20. The only situation where fixed route transit is less efficient than flexible transit is in low density suburbs or rural areas where ridership is less than 4 customers per driver hour. Fixed route transit should be used if maximizing ridership is the goal. If the goal is point to point accessibility or “coverage”, then maybe flexible transit is the way to go.

   Operating costs for fixed and flexible transit are the same because “operating cost is mostly labor”.

   Using technology to optimize routes can’t change basic geometry of fixed/flexible transit. “Theway the customer’s walk to a fixed route stop allows the bus to operate on astraighter path that’smore likely to be useful to more people. The correlation between fixed route performance andthe straightness of the route is very strong. Microtransit is meandering by definition, as it has toroam a large area and pick up peoplewho are not in any kind of linear path.

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