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Table of Contents
01

Overview

02

2020 July ASE Public Information Meeting Dates and Times

03

2020 Public Comment Period

04

Google Map of Approved Fixed Bus Route and Pre-Sept. 19 2023 Microtransit Zone Network

Use the link below to view the pending network. Please remember: The proposed microtransit network zones for the four express zone areas, which are Hensley/Wrightsville, Maumelle, Sherwood and Jacksonville, are still being discussed at this time and are not yet finalized (except for the City of Sherwood, which signed an agreement to re-join the METRO system with a microtransit zone in 2022 (with a 2024 update) and was initially awaiting vehicle deliveries, which were delayed, and is now awaiting driver hiring and training, to start service.

Sherwood microtransit service is tentatively slated for Summer 2024, with timing subject to METRO successfully hiring and training additional microtransit drivers.

For Maumelle and Jacksonville to resume public transit service, the Cities of Maumelle and Jacksonville would need to re-join the METRO funding partner agreement under its newer funding formula.

This transit network plan, with modifications to plans for Routes 4, 5 and 13 (seen on this updated map link), is approved, and began implementation in 2022 with the expansion of microtransit service and is slated to conclude in 2024, with the implementation of fixed bus route changes. Adjustments to the phase timing will be made as needed.

Phase 1 of this launch took place Monday, June 20, 2022 and included the launch of the expanded John Barrow Road Zone, expanded Riverdale Zone, redefined and expanded East Little Rock Zone and the Shorter College-Dixie Zone, Levy-Amboy Zone and McAlmont Zone. The Riverdale Zone was combined in October 2023 with the East Little Rock Zone to become the East Little Rock-Riverdale Zone, and the Shorter College-Dixie Zone and McAlmont Zones were combined in October 2023 to become the East North Little Rock Zone.

Phase 2 of this launch will involve the launch of new fixed bus route patterns displayed on this map. At the time of this website update, there is no launch date for this new network, as METRO is working to recruit, hire and train more fixed route bus operators during a national labor shortage for fixed route bus operators with commercial driver’s licenses.

05

Quick Plan Highlights

Riders spoke, and METRO listened:

06

Section 1: Little Rock Markham/Chenal Corridor and Southwest Little Rock

This section covers the midtown Markham Street corridor in Little Rock and Southwest Little Rock. These new bus route changes mentioned below did not coincide with the Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023 microtransit software vendor transition, as the changes are dependent on the fulfillment of hiring goals for fixed route bus operators during a nationwide shortage of bus operators.

07

Section 2: South Little Rock Service

This section covers the Little Rock neighborhoods south of I-630.  These new bus route changes mentioned below will not coincide with the Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023 microtransit software vendor transition, as the changes are dependent on the fulfillment of hiring goals for fixed route bus operators during a nationwide shortage of bus operators.

08

Section 3: Sherwood, Jacksonville, Maumelle/Oak Grove, Hensley and Pinnacle Mountain Service

This section covers METRO’s four express routes. Some of the tradeoffs here could involve establishing some additional types of service that are not currently defined.

09

Section 4: North Little Rock Service

This section addresses routes in North Little Rock.  These new bus route changes mentioned below will not coincide with the Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023 microtransit software vendor transition, as the changes are dependent on the fulfillment of hiring goals for fixed route bus operators during a nationwide shortage of bus operators.

9

Section 5: Little Rock Baptist Medical Center Route, Riverdale Neighborhood and East Little Rock

This section addresses jobs access for Midtown, the METRO Connect Riverdale microtransit zone pilot project and jobs access in the airport/port area.

10

Section 6: METRO Links Paratransit Service Area

This section covers related modifications to the METRO Links paratransit service area.

11

Stay Connected

Table of Contents I. 2020-2024 Annual Service Enhancements General Information
  • 01. Overview
  • 02. 2020 July ASE Public Information Meeting Dates and Times
  • 03. 2020 Public Comment Period
II. 2024 Pending Fixed Bus Route Change Information
  • 04. Google Map of Approved Fixed Bus Route and Pre-Sept. 19 2023 Microtransit Zone Network
  • 05. Quick Plan Highlights
  • 06. Section 1: Little Rock Markham/Chenal Corridor and Southwest Little Rock
  • 07. Section 2: South Little Rock Service
  • 08. Section 3: Sherwood, Jacksonville, Maumelle/Oak Grove, Hensley and Pinnacle Mountain Service
  • 09. Section 4: North Little Rock Service
  • 10. Section 5: Little Rock Baptist Medical Center Route, Riverdale Neighborhood and East Little Rock
  • 11. Section 6: METRO Links Paratransit Service Area
III. Ways to Stay in Touch With Us
  • 12. Stay Connected

As part of an annual review process and in relation to the R.I.D.E. 2020 transit network design study, Rock Region METRO launched its annual service enhancements process in 2020. The agency hosted three public meetings, July 7, 8 and 9, 2020 to discuss plan recommendations for 24 bus routes which are slated to begin to take effect in 2024, with timing subject to METRO’s work to recruit, hire and train qualified bus operators (there is a nationwide shortage of fixed route bus operators with commercial driver’s licenses and accompanying passenger endorsements) and microtransit drivers (there is a nationwide shortage of smaller transit vehicles used for microtransit service). Details were shared at the three public meetings and then posted at this webpage following the July 8, 2020 meeting for a 30-day comment period.

The Process

The METRO staff began its annual service review in late 2019 with the kickoff to its R.I.D.E. 2020 transit network design project. As part of this project, a round of suggested transit network changes was recommended by the agency’s R.I.D.E. 2020 consulting team, Transportation Management & Design, Inc, a San Diego-based firm specializing in transit planning services. These recommendations were only a part of the overall R.I.D.E. 2020 project, which had several project outcomes, including two transit network design models: a budget-neutral model and a model based on a moderate funding increase. The budget-neutral recommendations were adopted by METRO in August 2020 as the beginning-in-2022-and-2024 annual service enhancement recommendations. METRO implemented microtransit service expansions in June 2022 and is planning to implement fixed bus route changes in 2024. Again, the timing is subject to METRO’s success in meeting hiring goals for bus operators and microtransit drivers.

In anticipation of these recommendations, the R.I.D.E. 2020 project launched with an analysis of existing system conditions, a non-rider and voter survey within Pulaski County, a series of 15 meetings with various stakeholders and the general public in January 2020, and establishment and discussion of network design guidelines. With this information, a transit network plan for budget-neutral recommendations was drafted and discussed with the METRO Board of Directors and various stakeholders in June 2020, and these are the recommendations were presented to the public in July 2020.

Related to the R.I.D.E. 2020 transit network budget-neutral design was the former METRO funding partner contribution formula, which was established in 1986 and had unintended consequences for the overall design of the network today. The interlocal agreement that created the agency in 1986 dictated that any service miles within the system must stay within the jurisdiction that funds them. For example, up until a Summer 2020 approved change, service miles could not be added in the City of Little Rock without removing service miles from another Little Rock location. In other words, the agency could not add service miles to one jurisdiction by removing them from another jurisdiction. (Moving service miles from one jurisdiction to another could also be achieved with establishment of a dedicated public transit funding source, which is outside of the agency’s control.) To address this funding challenge, the R.I.D.E. 2020 project also delivered a funding formula recommendation that stabilizes funding partner contributions in the event of recommended service changes from year to year, recognizes the benefit of transit service to the funding jurisdiction, promotes regional growth and protects fixed expenses from service fluctuations.

Especially during the coronavirus pandemic, when METRO experienced an unprecedented number of employee absences and took extraordinary precautions to protect public health, a new long-term funding formula recommendation was needed to adequately plan for future public transit service. In anticipation of reduced city, county and state revenues during the pandemic, METRO moved forward with budget-neutral service change recommendations, while using the models based on additional funding to plan for future service.

Public Input

Public comments were taken into consideration at the review’s onset and continue to influence the recommendations. Technology tools also played a role: METRO uses transit planning software to make more precise calculations to create proposed route changes, taking into account jurisdiction boundaries, which change on an irregular basis. Automated passenger counters provide accurate data as to how many riders are boarding and alighting at each bus stop in the 1,600-stop system.

Field work performed by METRO vendors and staffers yielded information on trip generators (places to which riders travel), rider behavior patterns (such as when riders are traveling and why: work and school commutes, travel to health appointments, grocery stores, etc.) and factors that could affect proposed route schedule times (at-grade railroad crossings, school car rider lines, etc.). This field work also included a 2019 rider survey and input from the public during the January 2020 R.I.D.E. 2020 public outreach.

Following a 30-day public comment period the METRO Board of Directors approved the plan Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, with some modified plans for Routes 4, 5 and 13 based on public feedback. The network changes began in June 2022 with the expansion of existing microtransit service and will continue in 2024 with the fixed bus route changes, with phase timing subject to change as needed.

Rock Region METRO Hosted Three July 2020 Public Information Meetings

Rock Region METRO hosted three public information meetings in downtown North Little Rock in July 2020.

The events allowed community members to discuss proposed annual service enhancements, including proposed changes to 24 bus routes.

Meeting attendees were limited to 44 (20 attendees for the July 9, 2020 meeting), first-come, first-served to engage in social distancing; all proposed changes were posted online following the July 8, 2020 meeting, kicking off a 30-day comment period. Attendees were required to wear face coverings that fully covered their noses and mouths for the entire length of the meetings.

Meeting dates, times and locations were:

Tuesday, July 7, 2020, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Doors open at 11 a.m.), Simmons Bank Arena, 1 Simmons Bank Arena Dr., North Little Rock (Lower Box Office entrance along Washington Street, street-level; parking is available across Washington Street.)

Wednesday, July 8, 2020, 5:30-7 p.m. (Doors open at 5 p.m.), Simmons Bank Arena, 1 Simmons Bank Arena Dr., North Little Rock (Lower Box Office entrance along Washington Street, street-level; parking is available across Washington Street.)

Thursday, July 9, 2020, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (Doors open at 11 a.m.), Central Arkansas Library System Main Branch, Darragh Center, 100 Rock St., Little Rock

There was a 30-day public comment period July 8-Aug. 7 for the 2020 proposed annual service enhancements, followed by by a Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020 approval for the proposed changes, with modifications to Routes 4, 5 and 13, by the METRO Board of Directors. Changes for the fixed bus route phase of the plan will be implemented in late 2024, with timing subject to METRO’s workforce realities.

Click here to view the network map of approved fixed bus routes and pre-Oct. 10, 2023 microtransit zone network.

  • 30-Minute All-Day Service on Several Routes
  • Simplified Local Service
  • More Direct and Faster Service
  • New Service on Chenal Parkway
  • Expanded Microtransit Zones

Route 5 West Markham

To fulfill the No. 1 rider service request and improve frequency, Route 5 West Markham will be aligned along Markham Street on its east portion of the route and expanded to serve Chenal Parkway to Rahling Road, providing new transit access for employees, shoppers, and residents of West Little Rock. Route 5 will no longer deviate into the UAMS campus, but will serve the campus through connection the to UAMS Circulator route, which will run every 15 minutes serving the interior of the UAMS campus and the VA.

Map of Approved Markham Corridor Network

2020 Route 5 Approved Recommendation Map

Route 1 Pulaski Heights

To reduce duplication along Markham Street and provide a new, second north-south midtown Little Rock connection within the transit network, Route 1 will be realigned along its eastern portion to provide a new north/south crosstown connection on Pine and Cedar, between Hillcrest and Asher Avenue, near the intersection of Roosevelt. While the alignment west of Kavanaugh & Beechwood will remain the same, the route will operate bidirectionally on Beechwood & Lee, and southbound on Cedar/northbound on Pine, terminating at Asher Ave. This alignment offers connections to Routes 3, 5, 14 and 16, alleviating the need to travel to the downtown area to make those connections and reconnecting the neighborhoods north and south of I-630. Three of those connecting routes – Routes 3, 5 and 14 – are in the Top 5 highest-ridership routes in the system, so this is an especially meaningful connection. METRO will work with the city, private developers, UAMS and the VA hospital to establish an accessible connection to the hospital campuses. Following public feedback for this recommendation, METRO is launching a 15-minute UAMS Circulator route that will offer connections to Routes 5 West Markham and Route 1 Pulaski Heights and will serve the interior of the UAMS campus and the VA.

Map of Approved Markham Corridor Network

2020 Route 1 Approved Recommendation Map

Routes 17 Mabelvale/Downtown, 22 University Ave./Mabelvale and 23 Baseline/Southwest

To reduce redundancy along University Avenue, Geyer Springs Road and Baseline Road, improve the customer experience for transfers, improve the area’s span of service and improve frequencies on a key connector route, METRO is implementing the following Southwest Little Rock service modifications: Route 17, which shared most of its route with Routes 22 and 23, is permanently eliminated. Route 22 will be modified to serve the Midtown Avenue shopping and health centers at its northern terminus and the Baseline Walmart at its southern terminus, replacing the one-way loop along Mabelvale with bidirectional service along Geyer Springs Road and Mabelvale Cutoff Road. The elimination of one-way service is expected to greatly improve the rider transfer experience and will aid Little Rock School District students accessing Southwest High School near the route’s southern terminus.

Map of Approved Southwest Little Rock Network

2020 Route 22 Approved Recommendation Map

2020 Route 23 Approved Recommendation Map

Route 8 Rodney Parham

To avoid duplication of service along Markham Street (with the pending re-alignment of Route 5), METRO is streamlining Route 8 by permanently removing its portion east of University Avenue and its route deviation to Mississippi and H Streets, both of which were suspended early in the global coronavirus pandemic as part of METRO’s service response to the pandemic.

2020 Route 8 Approved Recommendations Map

Routes 2 South Main, 14 Rosedale, 11 Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Drive and 16 UA – Little Rock

To improve the customer experience and offer transit access to more locations along major arterial roads with more transit destinations, METRO is making the following modifications to Routes 2, 11, 14 and 16, which primarily serve locations south of I-630. Routes 2 and 11 will be interlined to create more streamlined bidirectional service and are complemented by a realignment of Route 14 to turn north from Roosevelt onto Main Street. The result is a streamlined grid of connected transit service with more even stop spacing for access to more places. Route 2 South Main, which will undergo a name change to Broadway, will primarily operate along Broadway Street. It will be interlined with Route 11 Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Drive, which means Route 11 riders will benefit from the elimination of a long one-way service loop. Route 14 Rosedale, which will be renamed South Main/Rosedale service will be realigned to Main Street to improve frequencies, as well as serve Roosevelt, a major Little Rock arterial road, east of Schiller to Main Street. Route 14 will also continue straight to 36th Street rather than deviating to Colonel Glenn Road, which is already served by the METRO Connect John Barrow Road on-demand service zone. Route 16 UA – Little Rock will serve the perimeter of the UA – Little Rock campus, including transit destinations along University Avenue, offering a more direct transfer opportunity to Route 22.

Map of Approved South Little Rock Network

2020 Route 2 Approved Recommendation Map

2020 Route 11 Approved Recommendation Map

2020 Route 14 Approved Recommendation Map

2020 Route 16 Approved Recommendation Map

Route 6 Granite Mountain

To improve the customer experience, Route 6 Granite Mountain will be streamlined to a more direct alignment. The route will also offer bidirectional service along Barber between 21st and Roosevelt, in order to more directly serve Kroger.

Map of Approved South Little Rock Network

2020 Route 6 Approved Recommendation Map

Routes 19 Hensley Express, 26 Maumelle/Oak Grove Express, 36 Sherwood/Jacksonville Express and 25 Pinnacle Mountain Express

To streamline the overall transit network and improve service where riders use it most, including adding the No. 1 rider service request to the network design, which is to serve Chenal Parkway up to Rahling Road, a major jobs corridor, METRO permanently discontinued its four former express routes to realign staff and bus resources to higher ridership routes at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. At the time, the former express routes were the lowest ridership routes in the transit system and were the most expensive to operate. The very minimal rider feedback METRO received in response to these route discontinuations is indicative of the declining express route ridership logged over a multi-year period. While there is still a need for transit service in some of these areas, the need is minimal and has changed in nature since these routes were implemented more than 30 years ago. To address existing transit needs, METRO is exploring new and different services, such as limited on-demand weekly shuttles, to reach outer suburban areas with some level of transit demand. METRO is also encouraging Route 19, 26, 36 and 25 riders looking for jobs access to explore the METRO Pool shared-rides-to-jobs service, which provides groups of four riders or more to a new-model vehicle (SUV, crossover, van, etc.) to ride together from nearby areas to jobs sites that are located close to each other.
Various transit service solutions for residents in these areas are being explored. Any potential new service model for these areas would be implemented in 2024 or beyond, pending approval from the respective jurisdictions to re-join the METRO system under its new funding formula and invest in such service. To date, METRO has an agreement with the City of Sherwood to launch a microtransit zone within the city; the service launch has been dependent on METRO’s purchase and delivery of microtransit vehicles, which were not immediately available due to supply chain issues, as well as recruiting, hiring and training additional microtransit drivers to support the service. This service lauch is expected to take place in Summer 2024. A limited microtransit zone serving Hensley operates once a week to connect residents to the main transit network for health appointments, grocery shopping and more.

Route 10 McCain Mall

To streamline service, Route 10 McCain Mall will no longer deviate into McCain Mall and will instead serve the mall campus by operating along McCain Boulevard (the McCain Mall Routee 10 Inbound stop was moved ahead of this route change to McCain Boulevard in Spring 2024 in response to the request of the Simon Mall property owners). The terminal loop will be streamlined and straightened so only riders going to Baptist Health-North Little Rock have to ride through the Baptist Health campus. (The bus will turn south onto Richards Road, loop through the Baptist Health campus, then turn right onto Stockton Drive, and left/north onto Richards Road again.)

Route 13 UA – Pulaski Technical College
To provide more direct service and improved connectivity, Route 13 UA – Pulaski Technical College will be streamlined to use Pike Avenue and Pershing Boulevard to access the UA – Pulaski Technical College and Fort Roots VA destinations. This is a modification of the route change recommendation initially discussed (that plan would have changed north of 18th Street to use Percy Machin Drive, 22nd Street and Willow Street to access Pershing Boulevard) but will allow the bus to operate without interruption from a railroad crossing in the area. The route will meet the current route pattern along Pershing Boulevard at the Memorial Drive intersection. To provide a shorter trip for riders, the terminal loop at UA – Pulaski Technical College would not deviate north of Pershing to Scenic or south into the Sarah Daisy Apartments. This modified route offers the first east-west North Little Rock transit connection in the METRO system, city and county history – a boon for riders looking for connection to jobs and shopping along the JFK and McCain corridors and to better access the UA – Pulaski Technical College campus from residences in the midtown and east areas of North Little Rock.

Map of Approved North Little Rock Route 10-13-18 Areas

2020 Route 10 Approved Recommendation Map

2020 Route 13 Approved Recommendation Map

Route 18 McAlmont

To provide a more direct and therefore shorter travel time for riders, Route 18 will be streamlined and operate bidirectionally along Broadway between Main Street and Glenview Lane. This will provide more transit access to areas north of Broadway. Route 18 will also no longer deviate to Sam Evans Drive. The rest of the alignment will be streamlined to reduce one-way and Sunday-only service. An existing METRO Connect zone will replace service on Sam Evans Dr. and Eureka Garden.

Map of Approved North Little Rock Route 10-13-18 Areas

2020 Route 18 Approved Recommendation Map

METRO Connect East North Little Rock Zone Map as of Oct. 10, 2023

Route 4 Levy/Amboy

To improve access to transit and the rider experience, Route 4 Levy/Amboy will be replaced by both an existing METRO Connect zone, providing better all-day local neighborhood access to transit, and an am/pm peak period express route, offering a fast and direct connection from the Levy/Amboy area to the River Cities Travel Center. This change will provide convenient, on-demand, nearby transit service to more residents and eliminate a large, one-way transit loop with a termination point that riders find confusing for accurate schedule prediction. This change includes enhancing a transit stop for the Levy/Amboy microtransit zone at Willow & Pershing for connections to Route 13 UA – Pulaski Technical College and Route 10 McCain Mall. Following public feedback, METRO added a Route 4 Levy/Amboy express bus during peak morning and afternoon commuting times to the transit network plan. This route will operate on the same neighborhood loop as the existing route and will operate along I-40 and I-30 to reach the downtown Little Rock bus station for transfers to the larger network.

Map of Approved Route 4 Express and Levy/Amboy and Shorter College Microtransit Zone

2020 Route 4 Approved Recommendation Map (Focus on Route 4 Area of Entire Zone)

METRO Connect Levy-Amboy Zone Map as of Oct. 10, 2023

Route 7 Shorter College

To improve access to transit and the rider experience, Route 7 was replaced by an existing METRO Connect zone to provide better neighborhood access to transit. This change provides convenient, on-demand, nearby transit service to more residents and eliminated confusing, one-way service loops that make it difficult for riders to know where to catch inbound and outbound buses. This change includes enhancing a transit stop for the microtransit zone at Willow & Pershing for connections to both the Levy and Amboy neighborhoods, Route 13 UA – Pulaski Technical College and Route 10 McCain Mall.

Map of Approved Route 4 Express and Levy/Amboy and Shorter College Microtransit Zone

2020 Route 7 Approved Recommendation Map (Focus on Route 7 Area of Entire Zone)

METRO Connect East North Little Rock Zone Map as of Oct. 10, 2023

Route 3 Baptist Medical Center

Route 3 Baptist Medical Center has no proposed alignment changes and may undergo some minor schedule changes in relation to other route changes.

2020 Route 3 Approved Recommendation Map (No Route Pattern Change)

METRO Connect John Barrow Road Zone Map as of Oct. 10, 2023

Route 21 Riverdale/METRO Connect Riverdale Microtransit Zone Pilot Project

To improve the customer experience and make efficient use of agency resources, METRO suspended Route 21 Riverdale in March 2020 to begin a a microtransit zone. The former Route 21 Riverdale was permanently discontinued in August 2020 and Riverdale residents continue to be served via METRO Connect East Little Rock-Riverdale microtransit service.

METRO Connect East Little Rock-Riverdale Zone Map as of Oct. 10, 2023

Routes 12 Clinton Center/Airport and 20 Hanger Hill/College Station

To improve access to transit and the rider experience, the former Routes 12 Clinton Center Airport and 20 Hanger Hill/College Station, the two lowest ridership non-express fixed routes in the bus system, were replaced with a METRO Connect microtransit zone that covers Hanger Hill, East Village, College Station, the airport and the port. This temporary zone was slightly expanded and made permanent in June 2022 as the METRO Connect East Little Rock Zone and was combined with the Riverdale Zone, with which it shared vehicles in service since inception, in October 2023. This change provides convenient, on-demand, nearby transit service to more residences and job sites. This change also includes adding Sunday service to the former Route 20, service area, which it had not previously enjoyed. The zone offers connections to most METRO fixed bus routes and various microtransit zones at the River Cities Travel Center. In addition, special weekday morning and afternoon scheduled microtransit rides are provided to serve the East Village area off Shall Street, Aug. 1, 2024-May 23, 2025.

Map of Approved East Little Rock Microtransit Zone

METRO Connect East Little Rock-Riverdale Zone Map as of Oct. 10, 2023

The overall network design does have an impact on the Links service area, but most of the riders affected have access to the accessible METRO Connect on-demand ride-sharing service, which offers same-day service and is the same fare as the fixed route system.

Specifically, this METRO Links paratransit service map – adjusted for all the accompanying route change recommendations for 2024, with timing subject to METRO’s fixed route bus operator workforce realities – details areas of impact: The teal color on the majority of the map represents proposed paratransit coverage, all of which is currently in service. The yellow-green color on the map represents areas that currently have paratransit service that would not be covered by paratransit service in 2024 (or beyond, depending on when METRO can sustain enough fixed route bus operators to implement these planned changes). Most of these areas, such as the Levy/Amboy neighborhood in North Little Rock and the airport and port/Hanger Hill and College Station neighborhoods area in East Little Rock will instead enjoy microtransit service, which operates with accessible vehicles and offers paratransit riders something regular paratransit service cannot: Same-day service without up-to-45-minute pickup windows, with fixed-route service fares (which are half the cost of paratransit service). The areas in blue, which are a small residential area in Southwest Little Rock and along the proposed Route 5 West Markham extension along Chenal Boulevard to the Chenal Promenade shopping center, represent new paratransit service coverage. These changes are dependent on all existing route recommendations going into effect in 2024. Phase timing adjustments will be made as necessary as METRO navigates the nationwide shortage of fixed route bus operators.

Map of Approved METRO Links Service Area

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