SacRT’s SmaRT Ride Service Brings Mobility to Disadvantaged Communities
Sacramento, CA – SmaRT Ride, a new on-demand shuttle service, will soon be operating on Franklin Boulevard and in south Sacramento, thanks to a $12 million grant from the Sacramento Transportation Authority (STA). The Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) will begin operating its popular SmaRT Ride shuttle in this area starting Monday, July 30. This is the second of approximately 12 Sacramento communities that are set to receive microtransit service in the months to come, and the first disadvantaged community to receive the service. The STA grant stipulates that SacRT use a large portion of the funds to bring SmaRT Ride to areas that are currently underserved by transit, a position that is strongly supported by STA Board Chair and SacRT Board Member Jeff Harris.
“Mobility provides freedom, connects people to essential services and improves a person’s overall quality of life. SmaRT Ride provides that needed mobility and the STA is pleased to be able to support such a vital service,” said Harris.
The SacRT board chairman anticipates this new service will be well received by the community, as it goes a long way toward solving first and last mile challenges among transit passengers.
“Bringing SmaRT Ride to Franklin Boulevard and to south Sacramento will be life changing for many, and we are pleased to be leading within our community as well as within the transit industry,” said SacRT Board Chair Patrick Kennedy. “We are also incredibly thankful to the STA for entrusting us with grant funding to expand this pilot service.”
When the new service begins, passengers will be asked to download a smartphone app to schedule customized trips. The app, known as Microtransit by TransLoc, is connected to proprietary software that allows bus operators to pick-up and drop-off passengers in an efficient manner. The service relies on small, neighborhood-friendly shuttle buses to easily maneuver on residential streets. Additionally, SmaRT Ride drivers undergo the same background screening as other SacRT operators, and all vehicles are equipped with surveillance cameras to ensure safe transport.
The expansion of SmaRT Ride into south Sacramento has received considerable accolades from various transportation entities, including the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), which is chaired by Jay Schenirer, who is also a board member with STA as well as SacRT.
“This is a significant day for those who rely on public transit and struggle to reach basic services,” said Schenirer. “The STA is committed to enhancing public transit in a way that provides access to more resources, and we believe that SmaRT Ride does this by providing convenient transportation that is also affordable.”
The cost to ride is only $2.75 per trip, $1.35 for those eligible for discount fare (seniors, students and persons with disabilities). All SacRT fare media is accepted, including single ride tickets, daily and monthly passes, Connect Card, mobile fare app and cash. The low-cost makes SacRT’s SmaRT Ride more affordable than traditional ride-hailing services, which could cost riders more than five times the amount for a similar trip.
SmaRT Ride has only been in operation since February of this year, when it was rolled out as a pilot service in Citrus Heights. Within six weeks, the pilot was expanded to Orangevale and Antelope, with a connection to the Historic Folsom Station. Ridership on the service continues to climb and customers are using the smartphone app to quickly reserve trips.
SmaRT Ride customers can also make a reservation by calling 916-556-0100, or by visiting www.ondemand.transloc.com.
In order for SmaRT Ride’s implementation to be successful region wide, SacRT must redesign its bus network to ensure that microtransit does not compete with fixed route service. That is why SacRT began a route optimization study in February, known as SacRT Forward, which seeks to update the bus network to better reflect current travel patterns and interface effectively with SacRT’s new microtransit service.
“SacRT is re-imagining the way its transit network operates by using microtransit in less densely populated areas to help residents conveniently travel about their neighborhoods and connect to frequent light rail and bus service,” said SacRT General Manager/CEO Henry Li. “The end result is that people have the freedom to travel throughout the Sacramento region no matter where they live in the county.
Plans to implement additional SmaRT Ride service areas have generated a need for additional shuttle buses, which is why SacRT is moving forward with bus procurement efforts. To help with this, SacRT has been given the use of three electric buses, thanks to an investment from Electrify America, which was awarded to the Franklin Boulevard Business District.
“Electrify America is investing $44 million in the Sacramento Green City zero emissions initiative which includes these on-demand electric shuttles along Franklin Boulevard,” said Richard Steinberg, senior director of marketing, communications and green cities, at Electrify America. “This investment will enable the Sacramento community to discover the benefits of zero emissions vehicle transportation through electric shuttles, buses and car sharing programs. We are pleased to work with SacRT to support SmaRT Ride in the Franklin Corridor.”
SacRT will hold a special ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, August 1, in front of the Capital Commerce Center located at 6200 Franklin Boulevard. The short ceremony will begin promptly at 9:00 am with remarks from Congresswoman Doris Matsui. The ceremony will be followed by Transforming Our Commercial Corridors, a co-sponsored planning event between SACOG, the Sacramento Asian Pacific and the Sacramento Hispanic Chambers of Commerce.