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Company Hopes to Launch Microtransit Service in Texas Town

With a $9.6 million grant recently awarded from the federal government, City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said Citibus is hoping to soon launch microtransit services throughout the city of Lubbock, Texas.

(TNS) — With a $9.6 million grant from the federal government, Lubbock, Texas, City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said Citibus is hoping to launch microtransit services across the city.

Atkinson told the Lubbock City Council during a work session Tuesday that Citibus is in the process of negotiating a technology contract to allow for pickup and drop-off all through an app.

Atkinson believes the new services could be available in a few weeks. The microtransit zones would feature personalized shuttle services that work similar to ride sharing services like Uber or Lyft.

For example, in an area like southeast Lubbock where no buses run, a rider could get picked up and dropped off "from street corner to street corner" using an app on their phone.

Lubbock would be broken up into four microtransit zones, Atkinson said. Citibus vehicles used for microtransit services would be smaller (not the large buses), and it would be more of a demand-based system.

"It's much more direct service than a fixed route," Atkinson told the city council Tuesday.

The city has been exploring this microtransit service in the past. Atkinson told the council this will be an excellent pilot program.

The $9.6 million grant was appropriated by Congress last month as part of the CARES Act, according to the city. It comes as Citibus ridership is down 50%, according to Atkinson. Citibus' most used routes, for Texas Tech, are currently closed.

Because of the drop in ridership, fixed routes have been limited to once an hour.

Lubbock's Citibus public transportation service announced last month that fixed routes will be free until further notice.

"We've identified a company (for microtransit services)" Atkinson told the city council on Tuesday. "Again, it is eligible to be paid for through your CARES grant funds. And it will use the existing vehicle fleet that we have."

With the help of a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation, Citibus is already in the process of having an extensive analysis completed over its entire operations. Another public meeting regarding Citibus was scheduled to take place last month, but it was canceled due to COVID-19.

The study will include analyzing the existing fixed route system, making recommendations for improvement, and developing a contingency route structure should funding levels decrease, according to the city.

Microtransit services were being explored in the study that was supposed to be completed this summer, according to a previous story in the Avalanche-Journal.

©2020 the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.