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How rider and operational flexibility made The Current the mobility option of choice in Clark County

Goal

Creating a rider-centric, on-demand transit experience while complementing existing fixed route services.

By the numbers

On time performance
99%
Percentage of shared trips
70%
Average daily ridership growth since launch
80%
Average trips per rider
30
Registered App Users
3500>

Overview

C-TRAN is based in Clark County, the southernmost county in Washington State and in close proximity to the mighty Cascade mountain range. C-TRAN’s microtransit service, The Current, is a point to point on-demand service that complements the agency’s existing fixed route service. The service runs with 12 homogenous dedicated vehicles that are ADA accessible and offer lifts to those that require mobility aids. The Current operates within the service areas of Camas/Washougal, the Port of Vancouver, Ridgefield/La Center, Rose Village and WSU Vancouver/Salmon Creek; it serves a wide range of riders including commuters, rural and suburban communities, including school and university students and those that require a first/last mile solution to access the greater C-TRAN transit network.

The previous operating model created high barriers to use for riders which limited the amount The Connector, the prior microtransit service, was actually used. The agency evaluated that the service was not meeting the needs of the community and opted to bolster their operations by turning to a technology powered on-demand solution.

Partner
C-TRAN
Service Type
Microtransit
Location
Clark County, WA, USA
Launch
January 2022

Challenges

  • Large service zones meant that a fixed route model was not feasible for certain areas.
  • C-TRAN’s previous operating model required riders to call bookings into the phone line specific to the service they wanted to ride, a minimum of 90 minutes in advance; if the operator was driving, the rider would have to wait until their call was returned to confirm their ride.
  • The Connector was built around a deviated fixed-route service structure, which was primarily oriented towards typical commute based trips and didn’t serve the needs of the greater community.
  • The barriers to use the service limited the desire for riders to use The Connector as their primary choice for mobility.

Solution

C-TRAN decided to shift away from a fixed route model and moved towards an on-demand trip based model. The agency replaced the previous microtransit service The Connector, with The Current, which offered a service type that had a wider and more consistent span of operations. By partnering with Spare, the agency has more information and data into its operations and can consider its service holistically and make data driven decisions to ensure that the needs of the community are being met.

The agency also opened up booking options for riders, giving them the flexibility and agency to be in control of their mobility and enhancing the rider experience. Riders can now call in or use the web or The Current’s mobile app, through Spare Rider, to book a ride and an increased booking window means that riders have the ability to book up to two days in advance. A partnership with the Transit App also means that riders have the ability to plan their trips from start to finish, making their transit experience a breeze.

“The best thing about The Current operating on the Spare platform is the flexibility that we have from an operations and planning standpoint. We’re still growing and understanding how our services can best meet the needs of the community and the flexibility that Spare provides allows us to make adjustments easily and as needed which helps us continue to improve our on-demand program.”

Taylor Eidt
Taylor EidtPlanning Project Manager, C-TRAN

Results

C-TRAN operators have greater insight into operations which means they can continue to improve the service to best meet rider needs while also streamlining internal operations through data:

Operational flexibility and ability to meet changing rider needs quickly: With access to real time data, C-TRAN has the ability to understand, at a glance, what is working well when it comes to The Current as well as how the service could be improved. The agency has the ability to make real time changes to service areas, service parameters, vehicles and operators and the changes are reflected immediately. In the case that rider and trip patterns do emerge, C-TRAN is able to make a data driven decision to determine whether and where it makes sense to integrate stops on their fixed route service.

Increased ridership and rider satisfaction: By removing the barriers to use the service through increased booking options, it is easier than ever for riders to book trips and make any necessary modifications to their booking. As a result, C-TRAN has seen enormous ridership growth on The Current: the average daily ridership for The Current is 300% higher than The Connector, the service that it replaced. The Current has become the primary mobility option for riders, allowing the service to accomplish its goal of getting riders everywhere they want and need to get to.

Improved accessibility and rider flexibility: The ease of use of The Current as well as its enhanced booking options provide an accessible service as well. A surprising outcome of the service improvements include ADA paratransit eligible riders opting to take trips on The Current as it provides more flexibility than traditional paratransit with shorter term booking windows and the ability to make any adjustments to existing bookings.