AUSTIN (KXAN) — A bus that picks you up at your front door and delivers you to where you need to go. Nope, it’s not the newest for-profit ride-hailing app but rather it’s Capital Metro’s way of providing door-to-door service in the public transportation realm.
Capital Metro launches its new on-demand Pickup app on June 6. The free pilot program, which replaces the MetroFlex Upper Eastside pilot route, will operate in east and northeast Austin. Riders can use the service in the area from the intersection of Manor Road and Airport Boulevard to the Interstate 35 frontage road north of Rutherford.
The new pickup service will run on the same route as the MetroFlex, but service will be three days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with no scheduled stops. Riders can open the app, request a ride and be taken to their next destination within 15 minutes.
CapMetro spokesperson Dan Dawson says testing mobility on demand helps them provide a better and more flexible service to their riders. “This kind of transit service is able to go into those neighbors or communities and offer a new innovative type of service,” explains Dawson.
Chris Divin lives in the Mueller area and says this type of service would resonate with younger families. “I really think people are looking at ways to fight the traffic and it seems like it’d be a great way to conserve resources on our planet,” Divin says. “I think the neighborhood really likes alternative transportation.”
Now, don’t expect a CapMetro bus to come roaring to your front door—it’s more along the lines of an 8-seat passenger van that is wheelchair accessible. CapMetro says they plan on testing the route for six months to a year.
During the pilot program, CapMetro will look at ridership, cost per passenger, response time, app downloads and a variety of other factors to determine if this program could be expanded.
“Operationally, we want to make sure this is working very well before we roll it out to other parts of the city,” says Dawson. “We’re not your grandfather’s bus system anymore. This type of new technology this type of new service takes us into a new area of transit. I think it’ll be really great for everyone if we can figure out all the kinks and roll it out to a large scale of people in the future.”