Placer’s dial-a-ride service to implement microtransit technology
Published July 14, 2022
Placer County Transit will soon be offering microtransit as part of a pilot program to enhance the region's dial-a-ride service.
Microtransit offers residents curb-to-curb transportation with the ability to reserve same-day trips via a smartphone app. Similar to Uber and Lyft, passengers are notified through the app of pick-up times and can also track the vehicle’s location.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday authorized the director of public works to enter a three-year contract with Spare Labs Inc. to provide microtransit technology for the county’s dial-a-ride service that operates in Rocklin and Lincoln. The contract includes options to extend for two, one-year terms. The first full year of microtransit service will cost $56,000 and $53,000 for each of the following two years.
“We consider this phase 1 of the pilot and hope to be able to expand the app-based service to all of our city partners in the months to come,” said Public Works Director Ken Grehm. “We want to make sure the technology performs well before we move beyond the additional pilot. This is the strategy we implemented with microtransit service in North Lake Tahoe and we found it quite effective.”
The limited pilot service is being made possible through a joint procurement between the county and the cities of Roseville and Auburn and will be rolled out in November.
Spare Labs, located in Vancouver, British Columbia, has been providing microtransit technology for six years and currently operates within 100 transportation systems. At present, they are providing microtransit technology as part of a pilot project for the Washoe Regional Transportation Commission in Reno, Nevada.
Placer County Transit’s dial-a-ride service currently provides curb-to-curb transportation within a multitude of jurisdictions within South Placer County. Passengers are asked to reserve a trip one day in advance by calling a dedicated phone line. The new technology will provide added convenience to dial-a-ride patrons by allowing them to request a trip in real time. PCT will continue to allow passengers to call a dedicated phone line to make advanced reservations in the traditional fashion.
“I am pleased that we are rolling out microtransit to Lincoln and Rocklin residents and look forward to seeing the service expand to our other cities,” said District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes. “It’s imperative that we continue to adopt new public transportation technologies to ensure our system remains an attractive service in the region.”
For the past 18 months, the Placer County Department of Public Works has been coordinating with Auburn and Roseville along with the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency to restructure the region’s public transit service, which has been experiencing a decline in ridership on fixed routes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.