As Metro Transit and the St. Clair County Transit District undergo changes with the complete re-visioning of their bus systems in Missouri and Illinois, MicroTransit is beginning to fill not only first/last mile needs but the gaps in service where a large, fixed-route bus no longer makes sense. MicroTransit is demand-responsive transportation that offers flexible routing and/or flexible scheduling of smaller minibus vehicles in markets.
The first MicroTransit option arrived last fall in the St. Louis region in East St. Louis, IL with the St. Clair County Transit District (SCCTD) Flyer. Starting November 1, SCCTD began offering flexible, on-demand, shared-ride service for areas outside walking distance in East St. Louis to four MetroLink Stations with connecting bus routes. Reservations were available through an app or phone. The six-month pilot program was made possible through a partnership with TransLoc and Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC) which operates Alternative Transportation Services (ATS).
The St. Clair County Transit District (SCCTD) Flyer is door to transit service or vice-versa with access to four MetroLink stations (5th and Missouri, Emerson Park, Washington Park, and JJK) and connecting MetroBus routes (1, 2, 2X, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, 22) and on the reverse to home, employer or school. This service provided on demand, shared service to the communities in East St. Louis (residence or starting point) to transit to open access to jobs, education, and healthcare. Similar to ride-hailing services, riders are able to request a ride in East St. Louis city limits to one of four MetroLink stations to connect with rail or bus services. The pilot is set to wrap up in April, and SCCTD is considering expanding the market to include Fairmont City as well. More information: http://scctd.org/scctd-flyer/.
Metro Transit is also looking at MicroTransit and first/last mile options to fill service area gaps with the bus revisions that occurred under Metro ReImagined. Last fall, Metro initiated a partnership with Lyft to serve 16 corridors impacted by the bus revisions. Riders are now able to take Lyft for $1 in the select corridors to and from transit. All of these $1 Lyft trips must start or end within 500 feet of selected streets in St. Louis. In January of this year, this program provided 509 individual rides with 57 individual users. For more information on this program, https://www.metrostlouis.org/lyft/.
In addition, the Bi-State Board of Commissioners gave the go-ahead last month to pursue a partnership with Via Transit, a MicroTransit company, to provide more on-demand service to two other areas in St. Louis. The fare is to be determined, but these routes would provide on-demand service select destinations. Via is currently working in 45 cities in North America. More information on VIA Transit: https://ridewithvia.com/solutions/.