RTC proposing to introduce on-demand van system

SPARKS, Nev. (KOLO) - Regional Transportation Commission officials are considering a new pilot program that would make public transit in Sparks similar to taking Uber or Lyft, but before they move the plan forward, they want to know what the community thinks.

This proposal, if decided on, would change where downtown bus routes 25 and 26 end to accommodate the on-demand van service. That means the area east of Iron Horse Shopping Center would be serviced by the potential microtransit system.

Several members of the community went to an open house Monday, January 28, 2019 to learn more about the idea. Microtransit would allow passengers to request rides online, by calling RTC directly, or on a smartphone app. The service would be called "Flex Ride" and cost the same as taking a bus.

A second open house is set for January 29 from 7-9AM at the 4th Street Station.

RTC officials say it's like ride sharing but less expensive, because you can buy a day pass and request unlimited rides.

The vans would pick up passengers at the closest curbside location within the service area, and drop passengers off at the closest curbside to their destinations within the service area; in some places that could mean picking you up from your doorstep.

"It should allow people within the microtransit service area to get to their final destination without having to take multiple buses to get there,” says Michael Dulude with RTC. “For instance, somebody living up in the north part of the service area wanting to get down to Legends, it would be a curb-to-curb service. So, they wouldn't have to take two separate buses to get to where they need to go."

Dulude also says Flex Ride is being considered because of the lack of people taking buses, and they got the idea to implement Flex Ride after seeing other nearby cities having success with it. He says Sacramento officials thought they would get 100 rides per day and now get up to 350 rides per day.

Officials say if the program is approved, it will start in May 2019.