Changes occurring include launching a yearlong microtransit pilot project that covers most of the Route 21 Riverdale service area and offers connections to fixed route service, as well as permanently replacing former Route 9 West Central/John Barrow Road with the METRO Connect John Barrow Road Zone microtransit service, pending the outcome of the agency’s comprehensive operational analysis. Route 12 Clinton Center/Airport, which is currently interlined with Route 21 Riverdale, will undergo a schedule change. Finally, Route 22 University Ave./Mabelvale, which is currently detoured to accommodate the The District at Midtown shopping center construction, will undergo a slight route pattern change, essentially undergoing a permanent route pattern change to the current detour pattern.
In November 2019, the METRO Board of Directors approved the agency’s 2020 annual operating budget, which, pending the passage of annual operating budgets that included transit appropriations for METRO’s six local funding jurisdictions (the cities of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Maumelle, Sherwood and Jacksonville and Pulaski County), included funding for operating experimental microtransit service in the Riverdale, Little Rock area in 2020, as well as continuing to operate the popular METRO Connect John Barrow Road Zone microtransit service in the area of Little Rock formerly served by Route 9 West Central/John Barrow Road Zone.
As of Dec. 4, 2019, all 2020 budget allocations to METRO from local jurisdictions were approved, and the agency staff is hard at work to produce and distribute public information regarding March 2020 service changes.
Rock Region METRO is hosting two January 2020 public information meetings at the Arkansas Arts Center and West Central Community Center to discuss 2020 annual service enhancements happening Monday, March 2. The changes include permanently replacing the former Route 9 West Central/John Barrow Road with the METRO Connect John Barrow Road Zone microtransit service; launching a yearlong microtransit pilot project that covers most of the Route 21 Riverdale service area and offers connections to fixed route service; issuing minor schedule changes for Route 12 Clinton Center/Airport; and creating a small permanent route pattern change for Route 22 University Ave./Mabelvale.
Meeting dates, times and locations:
Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, 5:30-7 p.m. — Arrive on time to catch the full presentation.
Arkansas Arts Center Boardroom, 2510 Cantrell Rd., Little Rock
Riverdale area residents: Attend this meeting to learn more about the microtransit pilot project service area and how to hail a microtransit ride starting March 2.
Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. — This is a drop-in/drop-out meeting.
West Central Community Center, 8616 Colonel Glenn Rd. Little Rock
John Barrow Road area residents: This meeting location can be accessed via Route 14 Rosedale or the METRO Connect John Barrow Road Zone microtransit service. If you haven’t used the METRO Connect microtransit service, stop by and learn about the service area and how to hail a microtransit ride.
The METRO Connect John Barrow Road Zone microtransit service pilot project was originally slated to end on Feb. 4, 2020. The service has been popular with riders, beating the former Route 9 West Central/John Barrow Road combined wait and travel times and offering front-door service to key locations in the area that were previously not served by regular transit service, including CARTI Cancer Center and Camp Aldersgate. The METRO Connect service has the same fare structure as the Route 9 fixed route service had.
The pending service change is to permanently replace former Route 9 West Central/John Barrow Road with METRO Connect John Barrow Road Zone microtransit service, with an extension of service through Sunday, March 1 and a permanent microtransit zone for this area official as of Monday, March 2.
It is possible that a separate comprehensive operational analysis project – the R.I.D.E. 2020 project, or Route Innovation, Development and Evaluation, slated to be completed in July 2020 (read more about the project here) – could spawn recommendations for a different proposed service change in this area at a later date.
The pending service change is to replace current Route 21 Riverdale with a one-year microtransit service pilot project called METRO Connect Riverdale on Monday, March 2. The METRO Connect Riverdale microtransit service may become permanent at the end of the pilot project period. A Riverdale-area neighborhood meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 15, 5:30-7 p.m., at the Arkansas Arts Center Boardroom, 2510 Cantrell Rd., Little Rock. Learn more about the microtransit pilot project service area and how to hail a microtransit ride beginning Monday, March 2. Arrive on time to catch the full presentation.
Click here for a map of the METRO Connect Riverdale Zone. Riders can travel to and from any point within this zone to another point within the zone. Please note that the River Cities Travel Center is a “point of interest” outside the zone map. This means that any trip generated to or from a point within the METRO Connect Riverdale Zone can begin or end at the River Cities Travel Center to make seamless transfers to fixed routes. So, for example, riders will be able to take a trip from, say the Whole Hog location at the bottom of Cantrell Hill to the River Cities Travel Center if needed and make connections to the fixed route system.
For a recap of how the METRO Connect service works, please visit the current METRO Connect webpage, which details how Rock Region METRO riders traveling to and from the John Barrow Road Zone are already using the service. PLEASE NOTE: We encourage Riverdale-area riders to go ahead and download the Transloc Microtransit App to their smartphones so they can create an account and begin to book rides. For the sake of other riders and the METRO team, please DO NOT attempt to book a ride on the METRO Connect service while you are in the smartphone app learning phase prior to March 2 unless you really are trying to book a ride in the John Barrow Road Zone. Remember: This app will NOT hail a ride for the METRO Connect Riverdale Zone before Monday, March 2 when the service launches. If you happen to see the Riverdale Zone within the app before that date, it’s likely the METRO team is testing the system.
Benefits of this microtransit service to riders include:
- Improved total travel times versus the former fixed route
- Front-door service to places previously not immediately along the fixed route [in the case of the Riverdale Zone riders, those locations include spots like the downtown Little Rock train station (Amtrak), Holcombe Heights Apartments, Rivercliff Apartments, Tree Top Condominiums, The Cliffs Condominiums and the Arkansas Department of Heritage]
- Same fares structure as the METRO bus fares ($1.35 for a regular one-way fare, etc.)
Route 12 Clinton Center/Airport is currently interlined with Route 21 Riverdale. With the replacement of Route 21 Riverdale, there is a need to adjust the Route 12 Clinton Center/Airport schedule. The pending service change is to replace the current Route 12 Clinton Center/Airport schedule with a new schedule on Monday, March 2. The span of service and service days for Route 12 Clinton Center/Airport will NOT change, but there will be one additional weekday trip with this change and the change is expected to reduce negative traffic flow effects for transit travel in the Shall Street area during afternoon dismissal at the eStem East Village campus.
Route 22 University Ave/Mabelvale is currently detouring to accommodate construction of the The District at Midtown shopping center along 6th Street. The pending service change is to make permanent the current detour pattern for Route 22 University Ave./Mabelvale on Monday, March 2.
Click here to see the current Route 22 pattern, and click here to see the current Route 22 detour pattern, which will be made permanent on Monday, March 2.
Public comments on these pending March 2 service changes will be collected at the Jan. 16 public meeting. You may also email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to Rock Region METRO, 901 Maple St., North Little Rock, AR 72114.
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