Public transit necessarily involves some sort of compromise between the vehicle and the rider — the vehicle has to get close enough to the rider that the rider is willing to board, but not so close that it takes a winding path and delays other riders.
Kansas City’s on-demand shuttle pilot project looks to bypass that model. Working with technology company Bridj and Ford Motor Co., the city has set up a program where people can hail rides from shuttles using their smart phones. With an average wait time of 5-10 minutes and a price of $1.50 per ride, the service is meant to bring public transit to each person.
Aside from the convenience of not having to walk or bike to a station, the city is touting the economic sense of the project as well. A Brookings Institute study from 2011 found that most people in cities can only reach 30 percent of local jobs with public transit in less than 90 minutes. Bridj said its shuttle service cuts those times.