This story was originally published by Undark and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
During the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, some city buses and trains have run empty, while others have been packed. In Los Angeles, for instance, ridership on the L.A. Metro has dropped from about 1.2 million to around 400,000 a weekday. Meanwhile, Detroit’s number 17 bus route and various lines in New York City have run at a potentially dangerous capacity.
To address this and other issues during the pandemic, some cities — including L.A., Lincoln, Nebraska, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Berlin, and Palma de Mallorca, Spain — are turning to on-demand programs called microtransit. Microtransit operates like Uber or Lyft, but the technology companies create the digital routing and ride-hailing platforms for transit agencies. According to Jerome Mayaud, lead data scientist with microtransit company Spare Labs, cities can use the platforms with public transit to fill specific niches and to offer rides that can be more affordable than solely-private operations.
“Imagine Uber and a city bus had a baby,” Mayaud said.
Since the start of the pandemic, c... Read more