JACKSON, Wyo. — The new START Bus Microtransit program servicing east Jackson is off to a great start after just five weeks of service, according to Bruce Abel, START Bus transit operations director.
During the Teton County Board of County Commissioners meeting on Dec. 27, Abel provided an update on START Bus operations to the Board.
Much like popular rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber, riders are able to schedule free on-demand transportation through an app from their location to any destination in east Jackson including START’s transit hub for connections to commuter, local and Teton Village routes. The service is available from 6 a.m. to midnight daily.
“In the five weeks it’s [Microtransit] been open we’ve grown from 50 riders per day to 570 riders per day,” Abel said.
Able explained that the average wait time for a ride and the average trip time is about five minutes but wait times are increasing due to increased demand. Microtransit is most popular during the morning and afternoon peak hours and more tourists have been using the service in the evenings to access restaurants and bars in downtown Jackson.
There are two vans and one car currently servicing Microtransit requests, with one additional car supplementing service during high-demand periods, which are on the rise.
Abel said that START is working with their Microtransit vendor Downtowner LLC to try to get a van to replace one of the cars to increase capacity. Currently, the average number of riders per trip is 1.5 and an average of six passengers per hour.
While Microtransit has been a success so far, staffing remains an issue at START Bus.
“We are continuing to hold up at minimum staffing levels, the downside is we have not been able to get over minimum staffing levels,” Abel said. “Other than the contract with Salt Lake Express we haven’t been able to supplement service as demand has increased.”
Abel also addressed service to neighborhoods south of town including South Park, Melody Ranch and Rafter J. “I think that the success of the Microtransit in east Jackson is providing us a really excellent model as to how we might look at serving those areas,” Abel said.
The possibility comes with a caveat, services will have to wait until the next fiscal year which begins July 1.