The U.S. National Science Foundation awarded the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) and Georgia Tech Research Cooperation a $1 million grant to pilot an On-Demand Multimodal Transit System Solution (ODMTS). The Civic Innovation Challenge Award supports community-based initiatives to address mobility and disaster challenges.
ODMTS is a hybrid of traditional public transit and ridesharing that offers real-time routing that meets rider demand, optimizes vehicle use, and fills in service gaps left by a fixed bus route. For example, instead of waiting at a traditional bus stop, a person needing a ride to the grocery store could conveniently and affordably use a smartphone app to summon a vehicle to a nearby location also picking up other passengers nearby.
“We are grateful to the National Science Foundation for this grant and proud to partner with Georgia Tech,” said MARTA Deputy GM Collie Greenwood. “Exploring first- and last-mile connectivity options is important in providing transit service that meets the needs of everyone in metro Atlanta.”
This small-scale pilot project will test the system’s efficiency and provide information on whether a large- scale version would work across MARTA’s service area as the agency is undertaking a comprehensive redesign of its bus network.
Professor Pascal Van Hentenryck and Georgia Tech’s Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) team is providing the technology, including routing logic, and rider, operator, and administrator system apps for the project.
“MARTA’s leadership is very forward-thinking, and they are working to determine the future of public transportation,” said Van Hentenryck. “They have been extremely collaborative throughout the process and provided us with vast amounts of data and insights to drive the process.”
The service will be tested in areas where there is a need for greater transit accessibility in DeKalb, Clayton, and Fulton counties and the City of Atlanta. It will connect to nearby fixed bus route transfer hubs, such as rail stations and Park & Rides, and use MARTA’s current fare of $2.50 with transfers included.
A start date for the pilot program and details on how to participate will be shared in the coming months.