If your family is like many others, everyone has a schedule. Mom leaves early for work. The kids have practice after school and Grandpa needs a ride at noon. Lining up transportation or resources to meet varying needs and resources, though, may not always match up.
The Regional Transportation Authority, which manages a $2.1 billion, 20-year transportation multimodal plan approved by Pima County voters in May 2006, recently received a $669,000 federal grant to test a mobility on demand (MOD) service that integrates smart phone apps, bike and car sharing, and bus and van services, to make getting around as easy as jumping into your car.
The RTA has partnered with Metropia, a Tucson-based company that uses mobile technology to solve urban congestion, and RubyRide, a ridesharing service founded in Phoenix, to pilot the Adaptive Mobility with Reliability and Efficiency (AMORE) project in the Rita Ranch area.
The idea is to improve access to work, school and play for people who want or need to reduce their car dependency. It will be a subscription-based program that allows users to arrange trips that might include on-demand shared rides, scheduled van service and public transit. RTA Transit Manager James McGinnis says subscribers will have access to all modes of transportation within the program. "The idea is to give families the flexibility in their commuting options."
Under a test scenario, maybe Mom works in downtown Tucson. She could leave her vehicle at home for Grandpa, get a shared ride to a bus stop, ride the express bus to town and schedule another rideshare service to get the kids from practice after school. The pilot program app does the planning for her.
The project will be tested in Rita Ranch, Mesquite Ranch, Civano and possibly near the University of Arizona Tech Park and Pima Community College East. Before the project rolls out in January 2018, there is more planning to do. "At this point, we are reaching out to stakeholders in the community with a questionnaire to help us learn what the demand is going to look like," McGinnis said. "We are encouraging people to participate, so we can build the program to meet everyone's needs as much as possible and to determine a cost structure."
The federal grant will be used to jump start the AMORE program and to help it become sustainable. McGinnis said, "In the end, it needs to be affordable for families, and stand on its own.”