Declines in public transit ridership are pushing transportation agencies around the country, including in the District, to pursue partnerships with tech companies to incorporate on-demand, dynamic shared rides into their services.
Proponents of “microtransit” say they could increase the reach of public transportation by extending travel options to underserved areas and into off-hour travel times when bus service is infrequent or nonexistent. Cities also are betting that subsidized microtransit could potentially lure back riders lost to popular app-based services, such as Uber and Lyft. They view it as a creative way to meet growing needs and balance costs.
“We can’t continue to spend huge sums of money on local bus service if it’s not being utilized as well as it should,” said Gabe Klein, a former transportation chief in the District and Chicago. “So how do you enhance local bus service to make it more useful to people in the age of on-demand modes? That is where microtransit comes in.”
The Department of For-Hire Vehicles is embarking on an initiative to ensure District residents achieve transportation equity. This objective means removing barriers to access transit service. The agency has continued to modernize the taxi fleet with the transition to a digital platform. We have provided financial incentives to expand economic opportunities and address market changes. In addition, we supported pilot programs to meet the transportation needs of people with disabilities, veterans, District government employees, and foster children. So get ready for Vision 2020. Stay tuned to learn more. The evolution of your ride is being driven by DFHV.
THIS IS HOW quickly transportation has changed in urban America. In July 2010, a service called UberCab went live in San Francisco—that’s fewer than eight years ago. Washington, DC’s Capital Bikeshare, the country’s largest bike-sharing program, really got off the ground in 2010. Austin became the first US city to host car-sharing service Car2Go a few months into the same year. Lyft launched in SF in June 2012.
That’s a ton more travel options in a short time, most of them enabled by the explosion of the smartphone and fostered somewhere in the Bay Area. Some have indubitably made it easier, cheaper, and safer for residents to travel through dense cities. But for city governments that feel responsible for getting all their residents around, the sudden burst of diversity has confused the whole picture.