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Wave Transit launches microtransit service to improve quality of public transportation in Cape Fear region

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 10:32 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - On Monday, Wave Transit launched a new regional on-demand ride-sharing pilot service called RideMICRO. The program hopes to provide flexible transportation to portions of Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties.

This one-year pilot project is 100 percent grant funded through a partnership with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). Wave Transit has also teamed up with Brunswick Transit System (BTS) and Pender Adult Services (PAS) to establish the program.

“Microtransit is designed to be responsive, economical, and accessible,” said Marie Parker, executive director for Wave Transit. “It is very similar to a private app-based rideshare but will be an extension of our current transit network.”

Wave says this new mode of public transportation is more cost-effective than traditional fixed-route bus service and offers an improved customer experience through decreased wait time and advanced technology for transportation reservation and payment.

MicroTransit will also help people like Paul Bronson, a disabled veteran who relies on public transportation for his daily activities. This program will give him a more direct ride to his destination.

“Whenever I try to go to the VA, it takes me two and a half hours on a bus,” says Bronson. “That would really take me maybe ten minutes at the most in a car.”

Unlike physical bus stops found in a fixed-route service, the stops under the RideMICRO program will be virtual, allowing a greater number of stops and increased access for riders. While a traditional fixed-route serves an average of 55 stops, Microtransit will serve an average 2,000 stops per planned service area.

Wave Transit will release a smartphone app and web browser that will support mobile pay and transportation reservations. Those will be available in January 2022 following the initial launch of the program.

The RideMICRO program will consist of designated transportation zones which will launch in phases from October 11, 2021, through spring 2022. The initial launch will include services to all three counties, including the Northern Brunswick/Downtown Wilmington zone, and the Pender and Northeast New Hanover County zone. The Southern New Hanover County and Pleasure Island zone is currently scheduled to be introduced December 2021, with the final Northern New Hanover County zone planned for implementation in the spring. The mobile app technology for the first two zones will be implemented by February and the remaining zones will be added over the following months. Each zone will launch fare free for the first 30 days. After the first 30 days, each ride will be two dollars.

RideMICRO will operate limited hours upon program launch. The hours of operation, 6:00 am to 9:00 am and 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm, will gradually expand to reflect the Wave Transit hours of operation. This is anticipated to occur at the conclusion of Phase 4 which is the full program launch.

RideMICRO riders will be able to book their trip on by contacting the Microtransit reservation office by phone at: 844-764-1223 or electronically, by means of a trip booking form. After confirming a reservation, passengers will take RideMICRO at the closest virtual stop to their final destination within the defined zones, or to a Wave Transit fixed-route bus stop. Each Microtransit zone will begin with an average of 150 virtual stops, with expansion of up to 8,000 total virtual stops through full implementation of the program.

The fleet will consist of 14-passenger vans and full-size SUVs wrapped in blue and white RideMICRO program branding.

For more information on how to ride the microtransit, visit this guide on Wave Transit’s website.

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