Imagine a bus or van ride when you want it, or within 10 to 15 minutes.
Microtransit is an on-demand, small-area ride for either fixed routes or hailed pickups.
“It’s kind of similar to an Uber or a Lyft, where you’re essentially making a request when you need a trip,” Community Transit community transportation specialist Alex Mehn said in a Facebook Live interview June 8. “It may divert to pick people up, right by their homes, and may take you much closer to your destination than if you were attached to (bus) stops.”
There are two possible service areas. One would connect Alderwood mall and Edmonds College, along 188th Street SW and 68th Avenue W. The other would be a loop serving Costco, the mall, the Lynnwood Convention Center, the Sno-Isle Library and the Lynnwood Recreation Center, along 44th Avenue W, Maple Road, Alderwood Mall Parkway and Alderwood Mall Boulevard.
The City of Lynnwood — which has seen an average of 7,350 boardings on Community Transit vehicles per weekday — has partnered with the transit agency on the pilot project as a stakeholder and in community meetings, but not funding.
“With the anticipation of light rail service, we — along with Sound Transit — have been planning for how transportation needs will change in Lynnwood and Snohomish County,” Lynnwood Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Deputy Director Sarah Olson said in an email.
Public transit programs such as community vans and microtransit operate across the country.
In Seattle, King County Metro operates Via to Transit, a ride-share van service that costs the same as a Metro bus fare and serves the Othello and Rainier Beach neighborhoods as well as Tukwila.
RideKC launched microtransit service in Johnson County and Wyandotte, Missouri. It was called an “immediate success” by Johnson County leaders after providing over 18,300 rides in the first 10 months, according to an October 2019 story in the Kansas City Star.
Community Transit has proposed that community van and microtransit riders pay the local fare of $2.50 or less per trip and are considering a system that would include paying with an ORCA transit card.
A community van would operate like a car-share program, with at least a couple of vehicles parked at popular spots for people to reserve, check out, then return. Riders could bring bikes into the van, which also could accommodate people who use wheelchairs. That service would be operated in partnership with the city, Community Transit spokesperson Monica Spain said.
Microtransit would require Community Transit to contract with a vendor for the service.
Community Transit and Lynnwood partnered on the pilot program because of the city’s nexus of destinations, housing, impending light rail service and traffic concerns.
“If microtransit is selected, implemented and ultimately successful as a service, Lynnwood would hope to see (Community Transit) continue the service beyond the pilot phase,” Olson said, “and look (at) adding additional microtransit loops or zones in other high-use corridors connecting Lynnwood’s highest-demand attractions.”
Mehn said the “ideal” for Community Transit’s pilot program would be that people wouldn’t wait longer than 15 minutes to access either option.
“Likely there would be more than one vehicle operating at a given time,” he said.
The agency plans to evaluate the program based on overall ridership numbers, new riders, impact on nearby bus ridership and customer satisfaction, Spain said.
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