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Stark Area Regional Transit Authority Introduces Micro-Transit Service (SARTA)

A woman in the drivers seat of a A new transportation van by Sarta Stark Area Regional Transit Authority

The Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA), which has won numerous national awards and secured millions of dollars in state and federal grants for its innovative zero-emission programs and development and deployment of cutting-edge technology, is now preparing to introduce a new micro-transit service, a groundbreaking pilot project that will, when fully implemented, revolutionize public transit in Stark County.

The new service will be available in a limited area of southwest Stark County sometime soon. Like the popular ride-hailing services Uber and Lyft, the micro-transit will enable people to request on-demand, curb-to-curb rides on their mobile phone, tablet, or computer using a free app developed by Via, the world’s leading provider of digital infrastructure for public transportation. Additional details about the pilot project, including how to download and use the micro-transit app, fares, exact service area, and hours of operation are nearly finalized and will be released to the media and posted on SARTA’s social media platforms soon.

SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad said the micro-transit launch marks the beginning of SARTA’s long-planned evolution from a mass transit agency to a Mobility as a Service (MaaS) system. “The differences between the two models are significant and game-changing and explain why MaaS is viewed as the future of public transportation,” he said.

“Traditional transit systems offer separate fixed routes and pre-scheduled on-demand service,” Conrad explained. “Fixed routes are exactly that—fixed. They travel to set locations at set times. On-demand services, like our ProLine, require users to pre-register and schedule trips in advance. While this service model meets basic needs, its inherent rigidity makes it challenging for us to provide the coverage, flexibility, and convenience existing and potential new riders desire.”

“Adopting the MaaS model and implementing the micro-transit will enable us to overcome those challenges by merging our various mobility services into a single, user-friendly platform that will give riders unprecedented control over their public transit experience,” Conrad said. “We believe that by enabling users to summon the ride they need when they need it, whether they are traveling early in the morning, late at night, or to a place our fixed routes don’t reach now, this micro-transit will generate increased ridership by making SARTA a more attractive transportation option than ever before.”

While the service is similar to Lyft and Uber, Conrad noted that the micro-transit will offer two distinct advantages over private companies: cost and safety. “Our fee per ride will be much more affordable and, because safety is, as always, one of our primary concerns, all vehicles in the micro-transit service will meet the requirements set in place by SARTA and operated by drivers who meet the same requirements and expectations that our SARTA drivers do on a daily basis,” he said.

“Everyone at SARTA is excited about the opportunities our new service will create and confident that the micro-transit will make SARTA the ride more and more people use to travel to thousands of destinations in Stark County and beyond.”

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