Exploring the Consumer Market of Microtransit Services in the Sacramento Area, California

Microtransit is an emerging, technology-enabled, on-demand transportation mode whereby small shuttles provide shared rides through flexible routing and scheduling in response to customers’ requests for rides. Given its potential to address the equity and accessibility needs of the public, public transportation agencies are experimenting with this service to fill gaps in traditional transportation in the US. However, why some people are interested in microtransit while others are not remains an open question. For people who have never used it, what factors could work as facilitators or barriers in their willingness to adopt microtransit? Who are the early adopters of microtransit? Guided by the theory of planned behavior, this study aims to fill the gap in knowledge by conducting a large-scale survey of microtransit adopters and users of other means of transportation in the Sacramento area of California in 2021. This study focuses on the microtransit service SmaRT Ride (SR), operated by the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT). Focus groups and interviews were conducted before the largescale online survey to gather preliminary information, help develop survey questions, and improve understanding of research findings, given the novelty of microtransit. Discrete choice models, including binary logit and ordered logit models and latent class analysis, were employed to explore barriers to and facilitators of SR adoption, willingness to use it, and underlying subgroups of early adopters. Important findings include that people who like fixed-route transit are less likely to adopt microtransit. Social support plays an important role in explaining the willingness to use microtransit. The analysis reveals three salient classes of microtransit users: travel time savers with environmental awareness, riders with a neutral mindset, and pro-SR and travel cost savers.