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On-Demand Microtransit

On-Demand Microtransit

What is On-Demand Microtransit?

A smartphone enabled transit service that provides riders with more convenience and flexibility than traditional fixed-route bus systems or demand response models.


More about On-Demand Microtransit

On-Demand Public Microtransit is a smartphone enabled transit service that provides riders with more convenience and flexibility than traditional fixed-route bus systems or demand response models.

On-Demand Microtransit

Public transit is a necessary service for all citizens regardless of where they live. Many cities and municipalities around the U.S. face public transit challenges relating to declining ridership, service inefficiencies, and budget constraints. In rural areas and small cities, public transit operators face additional issues like lack of first and last mile connections to transit facilities, low density of destinations within a broad geographic area, low population density, chronic underinvestment, and a small revenue base.

While traditional models of public transit, such as fixed-bus routes or demand response do exist, they are often limited in their ability to provide adequate geographic coverage, frequency of service, connectivity, and cost. As a result, riders often have longer wait times, longer trip times, and unreliable service. Furthermore, Transportation Network Companies may not prioritize operations in rural areas, small cities, or impoverished areas due to low or nonexistent financial incentives. These barriers continue to exacerbate social, economic, and health inequities in sparsely populated geographies, particularly for mobility and economically challenged communities, as they struggle to access employment centers and basic essential services, such as healthcare, and education.

There is a need for public transit that is easily accessible, affordable, flexible, and equitable to all. Given this context, small cities and rural areas are looking for alternative solutions to address these challenges. On-Demand Public Microtransit is one of these solut​ions.

On-Demand Public Microtransit is a technology enabled service that has the potential to be integrated with other regional services. Users download a smartphone application to 1) schedule and pay for trips at their convenience, 2) check their vehicle location in real-time, 3) evaluate driver performance, and 4) provide feedback on the platform. If a rider lacks a smartphone, trips can be paid and booked by phone or online. This service differs from traditional models because drivers do not follow a strict schedule or a chronological route. The supply of the service is dependent on the demand of the riders.

The benefits from On-Demand Microtransit can be realized immediately with more efficient service and reliability. It provides convenience and flexibility over more traditional public transit options. It can reduce wait times and optimize routes based on demand instead of supply. It can guarantee accessibility and affordability because it is a public service. Lastly and most importantly, it can create a more equitable environment by 1) serving and accommodating all demographics, and 2) securing funding for areas that have historically been underinvested.


The LST chair and members presented at the TRB TRANSED and Transportation Demand Conference on Thursday, September 15. View the abstract and presentation or watch the video of the session​​.


Ryan Brumfield, PE
Director, Integrated Mobility Division
North Carolina Department of Transportation
Phone: 919-707-2601

Roger Lentz, AICP
Chief Planning and Development Office
City of Wilson
Phone: 252-399-2210

Ross MacDonald
Public Transit Program Manager
Vermont Agency of Transportation
Phone: 802-522-7120

Janet Geissler
Mobility Innovations Specialist
Michigan Department of Transportation
Phone: 517-335-1698

Michelle Wieferich
Michigan Department of Transportation