Riders on some Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District buses will now be able to get to their destinations faster and easier as the transit district launches a new on-demand bus pilot program, transit district officials said Monday.
AC Transit Flex is a yearlong pilot program that provides the rider with on-demand bus service, accessible through a desktop computer, a smartphone or a simple telephone call.
Transit riders in the program's pilot areas will be able to schedule their pick-up and desired drop-off locations, by calling (510)891-5470 or visiting actransit.org/flex. Riders can then decide the day, time and bus stop to begin their trip, transit officials said.
Through the website, or a live customer service assistant, the rider will be given several departure times and estimated arrival times, according to AC Transit officials.
The programs pilot areas include Castro Valley, Newark, Union City, and Fremont. Using a 16-passenger bus, existing bus stops corresponding to AC Transit lines 48 and 275 will serve as the reserved pick-up and drop-off sites for the inaugural launch, transit officials said.
"Escalating rents mean more people are moving to areas where housing is denser but employment centers are sparse; that makes service frequency from home to employment hubs challenging," AC Transit Board Director H.E. Christian Peeples said in a statement. "Flex's pilot program is an effort to streamline transit to those customers while evaluating if a reduction in the reliance on cars is realized."
With navigation software developed by DemandTrans Solutions, AC Transit Flex eliminates the traditional fixed bus route and instead provides Flex operators turn-by-turn directions to reach a reserved rider. Similar on-demand bus programs in cities such as Salem, Oregon, Chicago and Denver have experienced diminished travel times for riders, according to AC Transit officials.
Because the program is still in it's pilot period, transit officials anticipate the possibility of software technical interruptions.
Beta-testing is scheduled to accompany the program's first 30 days of operation, transit officials said.
AC Transit Flex operates Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. and excludes holidays.
Riders are required to reserve their ride up to at least 30 minutes prior to their intended departure. Additionally, the program allows riders to reserve an itinerary every weekday for up to three months, as well as the option to reserve trips for family members of travel companions with a single transaction, according to AC Transit.
The program does not cost the rider additional fees. Flex riders will continue to pay the existing AC Transit fare of $2.10 for adults and $1.05 for riders between 5 and 18 years old as well disabled riders and people over the 65 years old. Additionally, discounted fares are available for Clipper card and 31-day pass holders.
For more information about the program, riders can visit actransit.org/flex.