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Gulf Coast Transit District’s New Microtransit Launch Replaces Underperforming Fixed-route and Paratransit Services in Texas

On February 14th, 2024, Gulf Coast Transit District launched Ride The Wave, a new microtransit service powered by Spare, serving Texas City, Galveston, and Brazoria.

Fathima Tabassim

Spare is thrilled to announce its partnership with Gulf Coast Transit District (GCTD) in the launch of Ride The Wave on February 14th, 2024 in Texas City, Galveston, and Brazoria. This new microtransit service replaces GCTD's former fixed routes and paratransit services, efficiently connecting riders, drivers, and dispatchers through Spare’s robust and flexible transit management platform.

Breaking free from the constraints of fixed routes and eligibility criteria, this microtransit setup eliminates the need for riders to apply for specific services, ensuring an equal and accessible public transportation experience for a population of about 114,000.

GCTD has tailored its services to accommodate diverse rider and agency needs, introducing notable features such as The Park and Ride Service which employs a daily reporting method to ensure accurate and monitored data. Additionally, the Inner City Services offer on-demand trips with advanced-bookings for just one dollar, promoting affordability and convenience, while The After Hours Service allows dispatchers to facilitate additional bookings for late return trips or accommodate for extensions in service hours. These are just a few examples of the innovative features GCTD has implemented to enhance the overall transit experience for riders in their service areas.

To address emerging challenges, such as driver shortages in some cities, GCTD leverages Open Fleets to meet demand by re-assigning trips to Uber. Their dispatchers and drivers have also embraced a fully digital communication system, foregoing traditional radio communication for more efficient collaboration.

GCTD's commitment to an accessible transit experience is further evident in their strategic installation of tablets at bus stops, allowing riders without cell phones to book rides conveniently through Spare’s user-friendly app. To support GCTD’s endeavors, Spare has provided extensive support, including three pre-launch meetings and on-site training throughout launch week. This collaborative effort has facilitated a smooth transition for GCTD and strengthened their partnership with Spare.

Despite initial reservations and pushback from some cities, the collaborative spirit and determination of both teams played a key role in successfully navigating challenges and implementing innovative solutions. Riders are already expressing anticipation for the upcoming change, echoing the positive response from GCTD’s dispatch team regarding streamlined operations. This launch represents a community-oriented approach to transit by addressing rider concerns, adapting to evolving needs, and ensuring accessible and convinent transportation for Texans.

Going forward, the launch of Ride The Wave opens doors to further service expansions and enhancements in microtransit.

Congratulations to GCTD on the launch of their new forward-thinking microtransit solution, for embracing change, and for prioritizing inclusivity within their community!