Since the pandemic began, transit agencies have turned to microtransit or on-demand services to solve COVID-related challenges like filling service gaps created by significant reductions in bus and rail lines. On-demand microtransit programs are on the rise, and with it, a growing need for effective microtransit planning.
Before COVID, agencies were implementing microtransit projects to achieve their broader goals of increasing access and decreasing congestion. According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, microtransit can increase access while reducing the number of vehicle miles traveled. The study looked at four cities: Arlington, Texas; Seattle, Washington; Berlin, Germany; and West Sacramento; California and summarized three benefits to microtransit:
Los Angeles, California and Dallas, Texas have also partnered with transportation technology companies to offer some form of microtransit to fill first mile-last mile gaps in existing public transit systems, provide as-needed coverage for less densely populated areas, and offer essential services, such as taking seniors to pharmacies, that may be difficult to implement with fixed bus routes.
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, microtransit has helped cities adapt to the dramatic changes in ridership that resulted from job losses, increased remote work, and the suspension of in-person instruction at schools and universities.
Micotransit planning can be done in Remix by leveraging the platform’s powerful data visualization and analysis capabilities. Here are six ways to use Remix for microtransit planning:
1. Identify areas with limited transportation resources
With Remix’s out-of-the-box data layers, you can easily identify places that have high population density, but limited transit service. The image below shows the interaction between two datasets: population density and 1/2 mile buffers around bus stops. Watsonville and Canby (highlighted with turquoise boundaries) show a population of people who have limited or no access to the transit network. These two communities are contenders for microtransit zones.
2. Use Jane for accessibility analysis
Jane, Remix’s travel time isochrone, provides powerful visuals for what access looks like across the network. In the image below, “Reverse Jane” tells the story of how long it takes transit riders to get to Jane’s location on the map (placed near downtown Portland). The area highlighted with the pink boundary (south of Maplewood) shows a potential gap in access since riders starting there would have to travel 2 hours to get to downtown Portland, whereas riders originating from neighboring areas will only need to travel 1.5 hours.
3. Identify critical places of interest
Understanding key destinations is an important element of microtransit planning. Remix brings in dynamic points-of-interest layers to help with access to popular destinations and essential services.
4. Conduct ridership analysis
As budgets continue to fall due to economic uncertainty, we’ve observed that our 340+ customer agencies are reassessing their service more frequently than ever before. At many transit agencies, routes with historically low ridership are being reduced or eliminated, creating opportunities for potential microtransit zones.
5. Leverage 3rd party data
Remix is a data-agnostic platform, which means it is able to ingest data from both proprietary and public sources for more compelling analysis. Recently, Remix and Spare Labs collaborated to empower you to better integrate on-demand microtransit into their public transportation planning. As part of a new pilot program, Remix now visualizes microtransit potential for agencies from Spare Labs models.
6. Draw and export microtransit zones with Remix
Once analysis for microtransit potential is conducted in Remix, you can draw custom areas in Remix Explore and export the custom polygon with its corresponding statistics. The data affiliated with the polygon, along with other Remix analysis outlined above, helps transit agencies make informed, data-driven decisions when implementing microtransit projects.
With limited resources, budget cuts, and continued uncertainty caused by the pandemic, transit agencies are channeling creative problem solving by exploring unconventional solutions like on-demand microtransit programs. While agencies are in their planning stages, the broad scope of analyses that Remix provides can help. If you’d like to learn how Remix’s platform can help with microtransit planning or other mobility projects, reach out at remix.com/demo to learn more.
When planned well, flexible mobility programs, like paratransit, demand response, shared on-demand, or microtransit services, can support broader city goals of increasing access and decreasing congestion.