On Demand Service Model Makes Sunday Public Transit Service Possible in Redding, California through Shasta Regional Transportation Agency

REDDING, Calif. and ATLANTA, Nov. 13, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Shasta Regional Transportation Agency (SRTA) has launched an on-demand transportation service, called ShastaConnect, to make Sunday service available to riders in the Redding area directly to their destination. The project is in partnership with Dignity Health Connected Living (DHCL), a local non-profit dedicated to promoting independence for seniors and people living with disabilities, and Routematch, a mobility technology provider.

“Our region is growing and providing public transportation on Sundays has been a common request of our community.  However, finding an efficient way to do so with limited resources is difficult.  We conducted a study to help us determine the likely number of riders and landed on a creative approach similar to projects in larger metropolitan areas like ‘SmartRide’ in the Sacramento region and Marin Transit’s ‘Connect’ in the Bay Area,” said SRTA Senior Transportation Planner, Sean Tiedgen.

Every Sunday, riders can now book a trip for themselves and up to five others through their mobile phone by downloading the ShastaConnect app, available on Google Play for Android users or the AppStore for iPhone users. Riders can also book through the website (www.shastaconnect.org) or by calling ShastaConnect staff to request a trip. Additionally, riders can personalize their journey by indicating if they have a bicycle, use a wheelchair, have a service animal, or other characteristics defined in the app.  A vehicle is dispatched based on the requested time for pick up and may pick up other riders along the way, known as “ridesharing.” For riders who prefer to reserve their rides, bookings can be made three days in advance. The service starts at 6:30 a.m. and runs until 7:30 p.m. and will initially run free of charge.

“On the first day, riders shared stories about how the service would help them,” said Tiedgen, “Our very first rider, Esther, said she hadn’t been able to go to Sunday mass in years due to not having a viable transportation option.  Another rider shared that it would make it easier for him to get to work and expand his availability to work more hours.”

The project is planned to run for 24 months with funding provided to SRTA through California’s Low Carbon Transit Operations Program.

Atlanta-based mobility partner Routematch is assisting on the technology side. Its mobility platform not only helps riders book trips, it also allows SRTA to expand or shrink service based on rider demand and experiment with creating other zones where access to transportation is lacking. By having one mobility platform, SRTA would also have an automated fare collection option built in, should the time come to use it.

“What inspires us about SRTA’s project is how purpose-driven it is, and the direct community data that SRTA had gathered,” said Pepper Harward, Routematch’s President. “The leadership team’s vision centers on pursuing new ways to look at public transit. Together, we can remove barriers for Sunday travel, and design and execute on an inclusive mobility ecosystem that could be replicated in other small towns.”

“I’m excited and cautiously optimistic,” said Sean. “There’s a lot of potential to address low performing routes, areas of low ridership and first-mile/last-mile connections that a traditional fixed route system may not be able to reach. Early results have been positive and we are excited to see how the community responds over the next few months.”

The idea first hatched in November 2016 when SRTA’s Board of Directors approved a feasibility study on providing public transit on Sundays.  Existing services, travel distance, fare pricing, funding, general acceptance/perceptions, safety, reliability, resource availability, and a community survey were all part of the study. 

Knowing that this would be a new experience for riders, much effort went into preparing area residents for the new service. SRTA partnered with a marketing firm, Circa Now LLC, to assist with community outreach. Outreach efforts included social media, radio ads, online digital ads, attending community events, sending out mailers, and handing out flyers around the region.

About Shasta Regional Transportation Agency

SRTA serves as the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) and regional transportation planning agency (RTPA) for the Shasta County region. SRTA studies the region’s transportation needs, pursues potential funding sources and determines what improvements need to be made.  Recently, this has evolved to include pilot public transportation projects, including the ShastaConnect Sunday On-Demand Transit pilot service and a future anticipated 170-mile intercity zero-emission public transit service connecting downtown Redding, CA to downtown Sacramento, CA.

About Dignity Health Connected Living (DHCL)

DHCL is a local non-profit dedicated to promoting independence for seniors and people living with disabilities. They provide Adult Day programs, meals, a foodbank, health-related and in-home support services, and transportation services.  DHCL is contracted by SRTA to provide specialized public transportation services through ShastaConnect.

About Routematch

Routematch seeks to build a world where communities actively champion the dignity of individuals and move them toward their aspirations. The company’s approach focuses on creating sustainable and inclusive mobility ecosystems through technologies for Mobility On Demand/Mobility as a Service (Maas) for flexible service planning and delivery, Demand Response and Paratransit, Fixed Route, Business Intelligence and Automated Faring. The privately- held company comprises of 170 passionate professionals who work with hundreds of public transit agencies and private organizations across North America and Australia.

Media contacts:

Sean Tiedgen, SRTA P: 530-262-6185; stiedgen@srta.ca.gov

Daisy Wall, Routematch P: 404-664-0166; E: daisy.wall@routematch.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/2a90168c-6759-483c-8853-814f7b35d5d2