LISLE, IL and TAUNTON, MA — National Express Transit (NEXT), the fastest-growing transit company in North America, in conjunction with the Greater Attleboro-Taunton Regional Transit Authority (GATRA) and Spare, a leading provider of on-demand mobility software, are pleased to announce the launch of a new on-demand microtransit service in the tri-town area of Franklin, Foxboro, and Norfolk.
The new service, GATRA On Demand United, is powered by NEXT Connect, a software solution that allows customers to book and pay for rides via an app, as well as track their vehicle and rate their driver. Customers can also continue to call in to book and pay for rides if they prefer that method.
“By leveraging our existing infrastructure, it meant that the on-demand service could be introduced without the usual associated operational set-up costs,” said Jason Beevis, Director of Technology and Innovation for NEXT. “It’s a win for everyone; most importantly, our customers have a great new service that reduces their wait times, and the Transit Authority saves money compared to operating the traditional fixed-route services.”
Following restrictions imposed in the region due to the Covid-19 pandemic, ridership on the region’s fixed-route transit buses dropped dramatically, forcing GATRA to suspend the services. Thanks to this innovative technology, GATRA is once again able to serve the customers who used the fixed route services by utilizing the existing dial-a-ride vehicles that operate in the same area. GATRA Administrator, Mark A. Souza said, “We are thrilled to launch this innovation solution introduced by National Express. We are focused on providing the highest level of service to our customers, and National Express is partnered with us in that endeavor.”
NEXT Connect, utilizes Spare’s technology to optimize passenger pick-ups, vehicle matching, and routing, making the most efficient use of vehicles and providing an equitable and high level of service to all those who need it. This ‘commingling’ system, as it is referred to, is built around strict customer service rules. For example, if the system identifies that a customer may have to wait more than 15 minutes for a ride, another vehicle nearby will be directed to pick-up that customer to reduce wait times and provide a higher level of customer service. “As a truly open transit software provider, we are delighted that this unique partnership came to fruition and we are excited to be able to enable the benefits of microtransit to the citizens of Franklin, Foxboro, and Norfolk,” says Spare CEO Kristoffer Vik Hansen.
GATRA On Demand United service is set to begin December 15, 2020. For the first month, customers will be able to try the system for free. The new service is available weekdays from 7am to 6pm and on Saturdays from 9am to 6pm. No service is provided on Sundays. All vehicles are wheelchair accessible.