Accessibility to Transportation
A long-standing problem with mass transit has been the lack of transit services in certain areas, specifically more rural areas, compared to urban settings. Microtransit caters to places that lack public transit, creating more equity in transportation.
Arlington, Texas, for example, began providing microtransit through a partnership with Via in 2017 to mitigate the city’s lack of public transport, despite its population of over 400,000 people.7 As of November 2022, Arlington’s city council agreed to extend Via’s citywide service, ensuring equitable transportation for Arlington residents for another two years.
Microtransit’s rising popularity and expanding availability present various opportunities for environmental sustainability. These services fill in transportation accessibility gaps for those who live in communities without mass transit systems. In turn, there is a lesser need for individuals to own their own vehicles, working to reduce overall gas emissions.
Additionally, there are economic incentives for microtransit companies and transit systems to utilize electric vehicles. Namely, many cities award federal funding to transit agencies that switch from gas to electric vehicles, such as Connect Transit in Illinois.8 Because electric vehicles emit far fewer pollutants than gas vehicles, a transition toward electric vehicles supports a gradual reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.9
The cost of microtransit services varies by agency and location but falls between $1 to $5 per ride, generally. Many agencies offer discounts for seniors, veterans and students and many charge an average of $2 per ride. This is lower than the cost of mass transit in many cities, which ranges from $2.50 up to around $6 per ride.
Rideshare prices, in comparison, increase depending on demand, location and time of day, resulting in significantly higher costs per ride compared to microtransit. The 15-mile Uber ride from New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens to Midtown Manhattan, for example, could cost between $90 to nearly $154.10
The defining feature of microtransit is its use of flexible and dynamic routes, meaning vehicles can pick up and drop off riders anywhere within the agency’s service zone. This kind of door-to-door service promotes microtransit’s level of efficiency and overall convenience for riders. Furthermore, the ability for riders to order rides right from their phones and track their rides in real-time makes these services much easier to utilize.