MICROTRANSIT

Written by

My industry has been protected in Utah since Covid-19 struck and I’ve been able to leave our home and to work-going to the office for paperwork, close escrows for buyers and sellers, and show homes (virtually, usually). There haven’t been that many folks out on the roads and it’s interesting to get on I-15 and see how many people are speeding. I find myself in the fast lane going 90 mph and realizing soon after that I am the one speeding, too because I’m not paying attention and just going with the flow. Slow the F down! I’ve noticed that there are less cars attached to the TRAX trains yet UTA is still getting people where they need to go. Bus and train drivers are part of the huge group of unsung pandemic hero’s working to keep our transportation system going. Sure, the schedules may be different with less options, but you will eventually get to your destination. Uber and Lyft are working and as are cab and limo drivers. My go-to taxi company (Ute) told me that so many of their drivers have little kids at home or are older and can’t drive, and that many haven’t been able to get unemployment benefits. You just don’t see these kinds of companies on the road because YOU’RE not on the road with our suggested stay at home orders these past several weeks, but as regulations loosen, you’ll be calling them again for rides. One alternative to moving people that hasn’t stopped is a new program offered by UTA that was at first an experiment and is now may be a permanent fit for public transportation if UTA votes it in during their November planning meeting. “Microtransit’ is the minivan option that offers shared rides along the southern section of the Wasatch front for the same price as a bus ticket. Ridership for all service providers-public and private-have dropped as much as freeway traffic. Given that fact it’s a good time to be working out the potential bugs of getting people too and fro for UTA. Basically, you use your smart phone and app (UTA ON DEMAND) to request a ride or you call from a landline. They’ve partnered with demand rider sharer ‘Via’ to connect multiple riders heading in the same direction into a Mercedes Benz van to save riders money and provide more transportation options.  You book the ride and the app or person at the end of the land line will let you know where the van will meet you. The real point is to get riders to TRAX or Frontrunner stations from areas where bus service is limited.  It’s a pilot program that other large cities are also trying and so far, people seem to like the option. Just like Uber and Lyft you can rate your ride from 0-5 while the program is being tested. For more information, go to rideutah.com/services/UTA-on-Demand-by-Via or call 385-217-8191. Yes, their drivers are masked, and they are not cramming six people into a van at this time due to social distancing recommendations.