SacRT’s SmaRT Ride Microtransit Service Among the Most Successful in the U.S.

September 3, 2020 RT News, SacRT in Community

On-Demand Shuttle Ridership Continues to Grow During COVID-19 Pandemic

The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) announced today that its ondemand microtransit shuttle service called SmaRT Ride is among the most successful microtransit services in the United States.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, SacRT’s SmaRT Ride has experienced steady growth this summer, with July showing the highest ridership month to date, providing approximately 12,200 rides. August ridership was on trend to beat that; however, excessive heat and fire related smoke had a significant impact with nearly 11,500 rides still accomplished.

According to data provided by public mobility company Via, whose technology powers SacRT’s SmaRT Ride app, the service has grown by an average of almost 4% per week in the past two weeks. Last week, SmaRT Ride completed 2,784 passenger trips, placing it among the strongest performing microtransit services in the United States in terms of both ridership and week-on-week growth.

SmaRT Ride only experienced a 15% drop in ridership at the onset of the pandemic in March and April, which represents the value the service brings to the community as an innovative transportation solution. SmaRT Ride has been in operation since February 2018, and has provided more than 230,000 total rides since it launched. This performance is even more impressive given the rapid decline in ridership experienced by many other transit providers around the nation and world due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

SacRT’s SmaRT Ride service zones provide lifeline service to communities with populations that are approximately 48% minority, 15% low-income and 13% disabled. While three of the zones, FranklinSouth Sacramento, Gerber, and North Sacramento serve disadvantaged communities that consist of more than 80 percent minority populations.

“It is amazing to see an increase in ridership during a time when transit is expected to incur steep declines,” said SacRT General Manager/CEO Henry Li. “This really speaks volumes about how important innovative public transit service is in the Sacramento region for essential travel, especially in our disadvantaged communities, to access food, healthcare and frontline jobs during the pandemic.”

With a total of nine active SmaRT Ride service zones, SacRT is the largest microtransit provider in the country, operating with 45 shuttles, nine of which are zero emission electric vehicles (ZEV). Six ZEVs operate in the Downtown-Midtown-East Sacramento service zone and three ZEVs, provided by Electrify America, operate in the Franklin-South Sacramento zone.

SacRT’s SmaRT Ride service is provided through Measure A funding. SacRT was awarded a $12 million grant by the Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA) to help expand microtransit on-demand service with a focus on disadvantaged communities throughout the Sacramento region.

“Funding transit is an important part of restoring our economy and accommodating our growing population,” said STA Chair and Elk Grove City Councilmember Darren Suen. “The STA is pleased to see that our investment in SmaRT Ride has been beneficial for so many in our region, as evidenced by the increase in demand for the service.”

“SmaRT Ride is a lifeline for residents to safely travel around their community to access essential services during these challenging times,” said SacRT Board Chair and Sacramento City Councilmember Steve Hansen. “The growth in ridership exemplifies how popular, convenient and easy it is to use the service, and demonstrates the need for innovative and dependable mobility solutions as we recover and build an inclusive economy.”

Using a mobile app, riders are able to hail a vehicle directly from their smartphone, online or by calling the SacRT call center. Via’s advanced algorithms match multiple passengers into a single vehicle in real time, and enable residents to use on-demand transit as a complement and extension to the existing public transit infrastructure in the city.

“Technology has the power to greatly expand access to public transit where and when it is needed most,” said Via CEO and co-founder Daniel Ramot. “Affordable and efficient public transit is critical to economic and social mobility in our cities and, especially during these challenging times, we are proud to partner with SacRT to provide an innovative transit solution to the residents of Sacramento.”

All of the SmaRT Ride zones, with the exception of the Citrus Heights-Antelope-Orangevale zone, have corner-to-corner service, which means passengers are picked up and dropped off at the nearest corner or ‘virtual bus stop,’ which is usually within a block or two of their pickup or drop-off location.

What is SmaRT Ride?

SmaRT Ride is similar to other ride-share services where customers can use a smartphone app to request a ride that will pick up and drop off passengers within the service boundaries. Following a SmaRT Ride request, the new SmaRT Ride app will provide customers with an estimated pick-up time, allow them to track their bus in real-time and be alerted when their ride is about to arrive. Passengers will also be alerted when their ride is about to reach their desired destination.

SmaRT Ride customers can also request a ride by calling 916-556-0100 or by going online to ondemand.sacrt.com. Wait times for service are subject to vehicle availability and demand. SmaRT Ride service is only available within each designated service zone and cannot travel outside the service boundaries. It costs $2.50 per ride or $1.25 for discount eligible customers. Five or more passengers can ride for free traveling together from the same pick-up and drop-off location.

The safety, health and wellness of its customers and employees remains a top priority for SacRT, and a number of proactive best safety practices have been implemented on SmaRT Ride in response to COVID-19. All shuttles are cleaned and disinfected each day, employees and riders are required to wear a mask or face covering and riders are reminded to maintain social distancing while riding. More information on COVID-19 precautions SacRT is taking is available at sacrt.com/covid19.

More information on the service, including maps of the nine service areas and hours of operation, is available at sacrt.com/smartride.