“Uber with a van”: Could microtransit help more Upper Valley residents get around?
Transportation is one of the challenges many Upper Valley residents face. Thankfully, we have free or low-cost public transportation options provided by several public transit providers. Recently, the Municipal Leaders Group, comprising town and city managers and select board members from the Upper Valley, gathered to learn more about microtransit in our region.
Microtransit is a technology-enabled service that uses multi-passenger vehicles to provide on-demand transportation, particularly to support access to fixed public transportation routes. Service models include first mile/last mile connections to fixed route services; hub-to-hub zone-based services; the commingling of ADA complementary paratransit services with general transit service; and point-to-point service within a specific zone or geography.
Microtransit was in the spotlight in a meeting earlier this month convened by Vital Communities, bringing together municipal leaders from Lebanon, Enfield, Claremont, Windsor, Norwich, and Hanover and representatives from area transportation providers: Adams Carroll, executive director of Advance Transit, Randy Schoonmaker of Southeast Vermont Transit (which operates the MOOver routes that serve portions of the Upper Valley), and Teri Palmer, Statewide Mobility Manager for New Hampshire.
Schoonmaker spoke about MOOver’s “MicroMOO” microtransit service, which provides free rides Monday-Friday 6:00 am-6:00 pm within the Town of Windsor and, since October, portions of Weathersfield and Hartland as well. MicroMOO now also offers twice-monthly service to large stores along Claremont’s Route 101. Since it launched last January, MicroMOO has averaged 28 rides per day, for a total of more than 6,100.
He described microtransit as “Uber with a van,” using a software-based program for people to arrange rides. “Especially in rural areas, one kind of public transportation does not fit all; microtransit serves all who need access to existing routes or have no fixed routes and need tailored service.”
Topics of discussion included funding resources and opportunities, especially at the state and federal levels, who is served by microtransit, how providers are constantly looking to improve access for all residents, and opportunities for collaboration among municipalities with transportation providers.
Since 2007, Vital Communities has convened Upper Valley municipal leaders on a regular basis to discuss issues of common interest. Recognizing that municipal staff and elected officials from communities of all sizes have the ability to drive solutions to our region’s challenges, this group will continue to expand its participation and explore new topic areas. If you are a municiap manager or member of a city council or select board and would like to participate in future meetings, contact Gabrielle Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.