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Citibus revolutionizes on-demand transit options in Lubbock through data-driven service decisions

Goal

Boost fleet usage and expand coverage area using rider demand and driver data to make informed service decisions.

Overview

Lubbock, located in the northwestern part of Texas and also known as the “Hub City”, is the economic, educational, and healthcare hub of the region and home to Texas Tech University. Citibus moves the 260,000 inhabitants of the city through its paratransit service, CitiAccess, and its microtransit offering, Citibus OnDemand. With Lubbock being home to a higher percentage of low-income individuals, it is increasingly important for Citibus to offer equitable transportation providing easy access to jobs and educational opportunities.

Prior to Spare, financial constraints prevented Citibus from tackling the lack of suitable fixed route options. The agency operated on a legacy system leading to service inefficiencies and no data to rely on to rectify these issues.

With Spare, Citibus has doubled its ridership for paratransit and microtransit rides through commingling— filling empty paratransit seats with microtransit riders and vice versa. Global Optimization of Live Duties (GOLD) has allowed for the agency to provide efficient operations and expand its coverage area to 100% of city limits.

Partner
Citibus
Location
Lubbock, Texas
Launch
May 2020
Service Type
Microtransit, Paratransit

Challenges

  • Citibus previously operated on a legacy system, yielding poor on-time performance with at least one in four rides being late and no data insights into how to improve service levels
  • Financial constraints limited the ability to operate paratransit and microtransit services separately and simultaneously
  • The previous service area with limited accessibility only covered 60% of what was needed by riders
  • Conventional fixed route transit options were not suitable in meeting the needs of Lubbock’s population and Citibus needed to enhance their service offerings to include  newly developed corridors that were not transit accessible

Solution

In 2020, Citibus initially considered on demand transit to bridge the gaps in the existing conventional transit solutions. The implementation of Citibus OnDemand was fast-tracked with low ridership during the pandemic as a means to continue to provide mobility options to those who needed it without having nearly empty fixed route buses running.

The Citibus OnDemand pilot rapidly became permanent as more riders opted for on-demand transportation, leading the agency to expand its service area from 60% of city limits to 100%. To address financial limitations, Citibus commingled trips between Citibus OnDemand and CitiAccess while ensuring that paratransit rider needs continued to be met despite vehicle sharing.

Citibus prioritized data with access to Spare Analyze: they had a view into the inner workings of their service and how to solve on-time performance issues. Citibus defined parameters on how they wanted their system to run using Global Optimization of Live Duties (GOLD).

Results

Access to data has revolutionized Citibus’s operations: with insight into the numbers, Citibus was able to drive on-time performance from 75% to over 95%. With increased service levels, ridership skyrocketed accordingly: as of June 2022, daily rides doubled from 300 to 600 rides a day with weekly ride numbers surpassing 2700 riders, without needing to make drastic changes to their existing fleet. With data relating to rider demand, Citibus is able to make key decisions about where to place transit lines in a way that is most consistent with needs and demands.

Global Optimization Live Duties (GOLD) has transformed driver duties and rider experience: more seamless pickups and dropoffs take place, especially in cases where drivers may be running late. The GOLD system does all the heavy lifting in real-time to continually optimize based on the rules set out by the agency.

By expanding its service area, Citibus redefined equitable mobility in Lubbock. People’s transportation choices are no longer limited to financially constraining alternatives such as having to purchase a vehicle or cut into their wages to pay for their way to work with a ridesharing service.

“Citibus has always been serving the underserved. Our service with Spare has opened up expansive amounts of opportunity for people to get connected to transit that they otherwise would not have access to. Spare’s done tremendous work and I believe in it because I've seen what it does for us.”

Chris Mandrell, Citibus
Chris MandrellGeneral Manager, Citibus

To keep up with rising rider requests, Citibus is looking into brokering rides through Spare’s partnership with Lyft, playing a fundamental role in making every ride possible.

Weekly Trips
2700
Daily Trips
500- 600
On-Time Performance
95%
Rider Satisfaction Rating
94%