Microtransit Is Here | Urban Living

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Microtransit Is Here

Posted By on May 6, 2020, 4:00 AM

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The real estate industry is considered an essential service under county health orders since COVID-19 struck. I've been able to leave our home and go to the office for paperwork, close escrows for buyers and sellers and show homes (virtually, usually). While car traffic out on the roads is light, it's interesting to see how many are speeding on Interstate 15. I find myself in the fast lane and soon realize even I am speeding, going 90 mph because I'm not paying attention and just going with the flow. Slow the F down!

I've noticed that there are fewer cars attached to Trax trains yet UTA is still getting people where they need to go. Bus and train drivers are part of the huge group of unsung pandemic heroes working to keep our transportation system going. Sure, the schedules may be different with fewer options, but you will eventually get to your destination. Uber and Lyft are working as are cab and limo drivers. My go-to taxi company, Ute, told me that many of their drivers have kids at home or are older and therefore can't drive, and unfortunately, many haven't been able to get unemployment benefits. You don't see these transportation services on the road because most of us have been staying at home these past weeks, but as regulations loosen, we'll be calling them again for rides.

One alternative to moving people around town is an experimental program offered by UTA. And assuming UTA approves it at its November planning meeting, "microtransit" may become a permanent fit for public transportation. This minivan option offers shared rides along the southern end of the Wasatch Front for the same price as a bus ticket. Ridership for all service providers—public and private—has dropped as much as freeway traffic has. Given that fact, it's a good time for UTA to be working out the potential bugs of getting people to and fro.

To request microtransit, you use a smart phone app (UTA on demand) to request a ride, or you can phone in from a landline. They've partnered with the demand rider sharer Via to connect multiple riders who are heading in the same direction. They then share a Mercedes Benz van that saves riders money and provides more transportation options. Once you book the ride, the app or agent on the landline will let you know where the van will meet you. The point is to get riders to and from Trax or Frontrunner stations to areas where bus service is limited.

It's a pilot program that other large cities are also trying, and so far, people seem to like the option. Just like Uber and Lyft, you can rate your ride from 0-5 while the program is being tested. For more information, go to RideUtah.com/services/UTA-on-Demand-by-Via or phone 385-217-8191. Yes, their drivers wear masks, and they are not cramming six people into a van at this time due to social-distancing recommendations.

About The Author

Babs Delay

Babs Delay

Bio:
De Lay is realtor/broker/owner of Urban Utah Homes and Estates. She is a former member of the Utah Transit Authority's Board of Trustees.

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