Microtransit and Volunteer Driver Program Improvement Feasibility Study
In many ways, transit and shared-ride services in New Hampshire’s Monadnock Region have made impressive strides over the last decade. New volunteer driver programs were built from scratch, a new fixed-route bus service was launched in Hinsdale, new wheelchair access non-emergency medical transportation services were introduced, and new shopping shuttles were introduced. All of this was accomplished with a very limited amount of funding. These achievements can mostly be attributed to the ingenuity, passion, advocacy, creativity, coordination, and hard work of non-profits and volunteers in the Monadnock Region.
Yet despite these impressive accomplishments, the current system has many shortcomings. Ride eligibility for many services is often limited to specific groups of people determined by funding sources. Among the fixed-route transit and other shared-ride services that are offered, they would be considered inconvenient by most people if these services were to be relied upon for routine use. In areas outside of Keene and Hinsdale, transportation is less dependable because rides are not guaranteed. Throughout the region, evening and weekend services are largely non-existent, save for a handful of taxi businesses in the area, but these services are far too expensive for most of the population to use on a routine basis.
The purpose of the Microtransit and Volunteer Driver Program Improvement Feasibility Study is to help area stakeholders in actively leading and engaging the Monadnock Region in building an innovative, coordinated, and resilient transportation network and to create a regional transportation network for everyone. More specifically, the proposal seeks to explore two research topics that could lead to a more innovative, coordinated and resilient transportation system for everyone. These include 1) an inquiry into the feasibility of microtransit and 2) examining the feasibility of expanding and better supporting volunteer driver program services.
What is microtransit?
A type of public transit that offers highly flexible routing and/or scheduling, generally with smaller vehicles, whereby trips are shared with other passengers going in a similar direction. Microtransit providers build dynamic routes ad-hoc so as to match existing ride demand with available vehicles with the aim of extending the efficiency and accessibility of the transit service. Microtransit rides are typically scheduled using smartphones or through call centers.
Beginning in July 2021, the Microtransit and Volunteer Driver Program Improvement Feasibility Study is a year and a half endeavor that will involve the Monadnock Region Coordinating Council and its members, other stakeholders with an interest in transit improvements, and the general public. This project is funded with Federal Transit Administration 5305(e) State Planning and Research funds and administered by the New Hampshire Department of Transportation.