Microtransit is the latest development in the US transportation landscape. In many areas keen entrepreneurs are providing public transport with small buses and only on certain routes. Pick up points vary but an app coordinates the customers, the network and pick-up points. The Globe and Mail in Canada discovered this microtransit is really taking off in North America:
“Ali Vahabzadeh often saw two or three buses drive right by stops in his old San Francisco neighbourhood so packed full of people that they could not pause to take on more. Commuters were left fuming on the curb, a rush-hour problem from Tokyo to Toronto.
That got him thinking. In his travels around the world, he had often seen private minibuses and other forms of so-called microtransit take up the slack in overburdened or inadequate public transit systems. If Kathmandu or Rio de Janeiro could do it, why not San Francisco?
Today, he runs Chariot, a microtransit service that operates 70 15-seat Ford vans on a network of eight routes with names such as California Dreamin’, Pacific Rush and The Great Haight (after Haight-Ashbury, famous heart of 1960s counterculture). It has grown by leaps since it started up with three vans on one route in April, 2014. Mr. Vahabzadeh, a transplanted New Yorker with a background in finance, drove one of the vans himself.
Calling itself “the world’s first crowdfunded network of commuter routes,” Chariot asks commuters where they live and where they want to go and uses the data to design and launch new routes. Once enough people sign up for passes, the vans start running. It took all of three hours to get the support for one popular route, the Richmond Racer.
Contrast that with the years of planning and millions in funding it takes to get most new public transit lines up and running and the appeal of microtransit becomes plain. Read more: