San Carlos, California’s SamTrans and Via launched SamTrans OnDemand, which offers point-to-point shuttle service within the coverage area for the standard SamTrans fare in the Linda Mar neighborhood in Pacifica.
SamTrans OnDemand allows riders to request a trip through an iOS or Android smartphone app operated by Via, or through the SamTrans Customer Service Call Center. Once a trip is booked, a shuttle is routed to the pickup location and can be tracked through the app in real-time.
SamTrans modeled the service on a concept known as microtransit, where smaller vehicles are dynamically routed in real-time using a technology platform and passenger app. The Via algorithm matches multiple passengers headed the same way, creating a highly affordable, convenient, and premium bus service, while keeping trip durations similar to a private taxi. The algorithm’s smart routing allows passengers to be picked up and dropped off in an endless stream, without taking riders out of their way to accommodate other passengers.
Services similar to this are being launched throughout California in less dense areas that do not have the population base to sustain traditional bus routes. SamTrans officials identified Linda Mar and conversion of the FLX Pacifica Route as a good test case to see if microtransit could be effectively implemented as a part of the suite of SamTrans services.