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Modernizing Dial-a-Ride with an Intelligent, Digital On-Demand Solution

The Challenge

The Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART) is Southeast Michigan’s regional bus system, operating 234 fixed-route buses on 47 routes with an annual ridership of 11 million. SMART is dedicated to their community, with services available for a wide range of rider needs, including ADA Paratransit, Community Transit services, and, until now, a Dial-A-Ride service. 

The agency continually monitors its routes and ridership to ensure its resources are being utilized efficiently and eliminating unproductive routes in order to reassign resources to more high-demand services. Because of this, SMART understood that the software used to power their Dial-A-Ride service in Farmington and Farmington Hills was reaching its end of life. 

The Dial-A-Ride service, while a helpful way for residents to get to and from work, errands, medical services, and the like, was slow, taking up to an hour for the service to pick up riders after they called the operator. This required riders to plan well in advance in order to enjoy the convenience of the service and did not have exact details on when their ride would arrive to pick them up. 

SMART required a new, more modern approach in order to continue serving their riders effectively. 

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The Solution

SMART chose Moovit’s On-Demand technology to power their new service, SMART Quick Connect. SMART had already determined the service zone, which covers the same area of Farmington and Farmington Hills that was covered by the Dial-a-Ride service, but the on-demand solution creates a more efficient network from the get-go. 

During the planning phase, Moovit performed simulations to determine the ideal number of vehicles needed for the service to hit SMART’s SLAs and did in-the-field testing in order to optimize the solution. 

Moovit’s On-Demand technology includes a smart algorithm that pools riders heading in the same direction into the same shuttle efficiently and without delays. The new SMART Quick Connect service allows riders to seamlessly plan, pay for, and book their ride through the Moovit app, instead of needing to call the dispatch center as before. Launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, the solution helps mitigate COVID-19 safety concerns through capacity planning, which limits the number of riders per shuttle, helping keep both passengers and drivers safer. 

With extensive training for operators and drivers, the agency was ready and prepared for the switch from Dial-A-Ride to on-demand microtransit. SMART adopted smaller, 6-person shuttles for a more economical and eco-friendly approach. Moovit created an educational promo video for the service, which explains the sign-up and booking process in-depth for all users. In addition, the SMART call center will remain open for riders without smartphones or who need technical assistance. 

What SMART Says

SMART is taking a big step by modernizing the Dial-a-Ride service in Farmington and Farmington Hills and is now able to offer a quick, convenient, and more reliable way to ride around their community. We are always looking for ways to improve service, meet the increasing demand for transit as well as address the challenges the pandemic has imposed. Partnering with Moovit and offering the On-Demand feature to riders allows us to address all of these issues with one application, while also developing new and innovative ways to deliver better services with our existing resources.

Deputy General Manager
SMART

Reasons for Choosing Moovit

  • On-Demand service integrated into Moovit’s well-known app
  • Moovit’s flexibility in working with SMART’s needs
  • Multimodal trip-planning for seamless connectivity between modes
  • Future-proofed solution: Ability to add mobile payments and scale service as needed

Results

  • Wait time reduced from an hour to 15 minutes average – down by 45 minutes
  • A decrease in booking calls to dispatch
  • Resource optimization enables the reallocation of drivers in places with more demand

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About SMART

Serving since 1967, SMART is southeast Michigan’s regional public transportation provider, offering convenient, reliable, and safe transportation for Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne Counties.

SMART offers a family of transit services, including fixed-route and small bus services as well as support for local transportation programs to connect people to employment, education, medical appointments, and grocery, pharmacy, and shopping centers.

Through SMART’s small bus programs, over one million rides are provided to seniors and people with disabilities annually. SMART is supported by federal and state funding, local contributions through a transit property tax millage from opt-in communities, and bus fares.

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