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May 19, 2021

The Benefits of Microtransit

Microtransit has the potential to enhance the transit experience of the wider community, reshaping the way we commute for the future.

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Microtransit has the potential to enhance the transit experience of the wider community, reshaping the way we commute for the future. Read on to find out how.

Did you know that the average person in the US will spend around 408 days in their lifetime commuting to and from work? Can you believe it? More than a year of their lives will be spent sitting in traffic, horns blaring, music blasting at an unseemly hour, all the while craving either that first drop of caffeine in the morning or the comfort of their beds in the evening. 

But not all hope is lost. There is a solution, and it’s in the form of microtransit. Here’s a quick little refresher on what this mode of transport entails.

Put very simply, microtransit is ‘dynamic routing’. It takes the mobile smartphone Applications we can’t live without, and puts them to use to create an efficient mode of transport that adapts with each passenger. At the click of a button, you’ll be able to book a trip that will take you on the fastest route for yourself and fellow commuters.

Not only does this new model of transport have the potential to alleviate transit time, but it has a host of benefits for the wider community, impacting women, the elderly and vulnerable, rural communities, and governments and councils. Here’s how.

Women’s work life and safety

According to the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) in the UK, women are disproportionately impacted by changes to bus operations. From their research, the NFWI found that women rely on Public Transport for a wider variety of activities, including work (often part-time), study, volunteering or carer responsibilities. This equals more transport time on a given day, and with cuts to bus operations, the challenge to juggle these duties increases.  

There is also a sad reality that women face when it comes to transport—the fear of travelling at night. And the current Public Transport system isn’t meeting this safety concern. From NFWI’s research, they gauged that women are hesitant to travel on buses in the evenings as they are often late or sometimes don’t arrive at all. This only serves to intensify the fear, and has an impact on women’s daily lives.

Microtransit can fill a space here that Public Transport in its current model simply can’t fulfil. In its dynamic routing function alone, microtransit can alleviate travel time, meaning that women who are juggling multiple responsibilities will be able to get to their destinations quicker, freeing up more hours in their day. Not only this, but microtransit adapts to each new passenger registered, and calculates the quickest route for pick up and drop off. This is more reliable for women who need to travel alone in the evenings, offering them a secure way of getting home.

Supporting the elderly and vulnerable

Those who are elderly or with a disability are the most vulnerable in lacking access to basic services, given their reliance on Public Transport. And while Transit Agencies have made steps to remedy this issue, there are still some areas that need improvement.

In the UK, it is reported that around one fifth of people with a disability have difficulty accessing transport due to their specific needs. This is a disheartening statistic for some of the most vulnerable in our society. Not to mention, both the disabled and elderly are also faced with a lack of independence, which significantly affects their wellbeing and confidence in utilising Public Transport services.

Both of these groups are in need of transport options that offer them convenient and reliable access to health services and their daily essentials. But Public Transport in its current state has recurring issues with transit time and dependability, which can be damaging to our most vulnerable community members.

Microstransit has the potential to alleviate these issues. With its dynamic and flexible routing, calculated through an advanced and responsive App, microtransit takes travellers on the fastest route to their destination and is more reliable in collecting its passengers. This means that the elderly and those with a disability will have improved access to both basic and essential services, and can increase their confidence in getting out into the community. Not only this, but microtransit can offer a comfortable means of transportation, catering to accessibility needs and wheelchair requirements for those with disabilities, and mobility challenges with the elderly who struggle due to geographical terrain.

A resource for rural communities

For those in remote locations throughout the country, transit options are in short supply. Due to the aging demographic in these communities, many people who reside in rural areas are unable to drive their own private vehicle, forcing them to rely on Public Transport. But this isn’t always easy to access as buses and other traditional services aren’t able to reach them on their designated route without a significant detour.

Microtransit can prove to be an effective method in improving fleet utilisation when applied to transport in rural communities. By integrating this transit model with current Public Transport operations, the most efficient course is charted with each person registered. The trip is highly adaptable, and would encourage more patronage due to its flexible manner. And more passengers on Public Transport would improve revenue, allowing for further transit services to be made available in rural communities. This also means better access to workplace opportunities, education and essential services for locals.

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Better servicing by governments and councils

Governments and councils exist to support the needs of the community. They are key to implementing change and offering public services that best suit all social groups. And among the top public services is transport.

The community needs a reliable and efficient means of transit as it affects all aspects of daily life, including access to basic needs, employment and health services. Public Transport as it currently stands hasn’t quite met the mark when it comes to the needs of the community, especially outside of major cities

Private transit companies have attempted to evolve with the times, offering cost-effective and efficient ridesharing options with a host of benefits to the daily commuter. Their proven success makes it evident that there is a lack when it comes to Public Transport—and microtransit could be the missing piece.

Were governments and councils to adopt a microtransit model within their transport services, commuters would have a more affordable means of moving around in the community, traffic congestion would be alleviated, and the environment would thrive given the reduction in harmful emissions. Not to mention, a movement towards Public Transport over private car ownership would alleviate some of the space within our communities needed for parking, allowing governments and councils to utilise these areas for other services.

Equity and access to transport for all 

Microtransit has the potential to have a widespread impact on the community, opening up reliable, convenient and cost-effective access to transport for all social groups. It can enhance Public Transport offerings, and remedy a lot of the issues our society currently faces, including supporting the safety of women, improving the accessibility of essential services to the elderly and vulnerable, better servicing the transit needs of rural communities and aiding governments and councils in providing suitable transit.

A movement towards a model like microtransit can reshape mobility for the future, allowing equal access to transport for all in the years to come.

Get insights to one of our latest Demand-Responsive Transport projects with North Lincolnshire Council's JustGoBus service—with a ten times larger service zone than your average DRT project.

About the Author

Cassie Holland

Cassie Holland


Cassie has forged a career out of her passion for the written word and love of hearing people's stories. She utilises her writing and editing skills to craft pieces that tell a story.