Bridj vehicle in Kansas City

Bridj experiment in Kansas City yields low ridership but big lessons

Ridership isn’t everything. That’s how planners are describing the results of the Bridj experiment in Kansas City.

A year ago, the new mobility start-up launched a partnership with the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority (MO) to test micro-transit service in downtown Kansas City and selected neighborhoods.  Just 1,480 people used the service, which was designed to extend the reach of the transit system.

Some might consider such low ridership a failure, but local officials see the results as a learning opportunity. “I’ll be honest: The ridership was not the top priority,” says KCATA’s Jameson Auten. “The top priority for us was learning who uses on demand. Really, the big goal for us was learning itself.”

Several factors contributed to the low ridership according to a program evaluation conducted by the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley,  halfway through the pilot. First, potential riders didn’t know about the service.  Second, the service didn’t operate where or when people wanted to travel.

Also of interest to researchers, Bridj riders were younger and more affluent than typical KCATA customers. Some 55% of riders were between 19 and 35 years old, and more than 80% exceeded the local median income of $46,000.

Although this project has ended, KCATA plans to apply the lessons to a new service this summer.  The agency will launch a mobile application designed for riders with disabilities to summon on-demand rides.  The project will be open to the general public, but trips will be subsidized only for people with disabilities.  Link to full story in Wired.

Photo source: KCATA

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