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AC Transit Launches On-Demand Flex Bus Service

The Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) in Oakland, CA, introduced a year-long pilot program called AC Transit Flex—an on-demand bus service—on July 18.

With Flex, AC Transit passengers within two designated zones can schedule their pick-up and drop-off locations directly with a phone, smartphone or computer. The service allows riders to bypass waiting at an existing bus stop, reducing their wait time overall and reach their destinations faster.

A 30-day beta-testing period will allow the agency to identify and solve possible software issues. “Simply put, beta testing allows AC Transit to place our new service into the ‘real world’ with our ‘real’ riders,” said General Manager Michael Hursh. “Once a trip is completed, each rider is encouraged to offer feedback on service quality, rider experience, pick-up and drop-off options, website functionality, software ease of use and reservations, to name a few. Customer survey cards are available onboard or feedback can be provided online.”

The agency has designated two existing bus lines and corresponding stops as the reserved pick-up and drop-off sites, but Flex riders decide the day, time and bus stop where they will begin their trips. The website or live customer service assistant will then provide departure times and estimated arrival times.

AC Transit Flex operates using navigation software, which follows a traditional fixed bus route with turn-by-turn directions for operators to reach a reserved rider. Similar on-demand systems in Salem, OR, Chicago and Denver have resulted in lessened travel times for riders and resulted in a high degree of rider support.
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