What Is R.I.D.E. 2020?
Reimagining Public Transit Service in Central Arkansas
R.I.D.E. 2020, or Route Innovation, Development and Evaluation, is the name for METRO’s comprehensive operational analysis project to see how we can better serve our community’s needs and gain ridership. This analysis will re-imagine the fixed route network – which has not undergone a major change in 33 years. This involves:
• Identifying short- and long-range transit operational plans and capital finance plans;
• Determining effective means of leveraging funding to increase ridership and revenue while addressing the transportation needs of the region;
• Conducting data-driven evaluation of existing service and performance, market conditions, consumer expectations, and future financial opportunities and transit needs (including managing a comprehensive transit poll within Pulaski County and Conway);
• Developing creative, effective, and achievable recommendations to address community mobility needs, grow ridership and position METRO for long-term financial sustainability.
Transportation Management & Design, Inc. is a comprehensive transit consulting firm providing innovative and achievable solutions to transit agencies since 1988. The TMD team helps systems optimize resources to operate more efficiently and grow ridership cost-effectively, ensuring ongoing financial sustainability. The firm’s practice reflects broad industry expertise in transit system redevelopment; service evaluation, planning and design; operations optimization; financial modeling; facility planning; and GIS mapping and visual communications.
Charles Frazier, Melissa Sather and Andrew Pease lead neighborhood associations presidents in a R.I.D.E. 2020 project kickoff presentation.
The TMD R.I.D.E. 2020 project leads include Melissa Sather, project manager, and Andrew Pease, AICP, deputy project manager and senior planner, as well as Russ Chisholm, TMD founder and president. As an experienced team of former transit management professionals, the TMD team understands what it takes to deliver reliable, efficient and productive transit service to customers on a daily basis.
The R.I.D.E. 2020 Stakeholder Advisory Committee is a diverse group of community leaders who represent constituents and organizations with mobility needs. Throughout this project process, committee members will learn from METRO’s consulting team, identify and communicate community mobility needs and concerns, synthesize public input, provide feedback on plan recommendations and, ultimately, serve as a public resource on how the final transit plan network aids the central Arkansas community.
R.I.D.E. 2020 Stakeholder Advisory Committee Members
Becky Adams, Director, Partnership and Policy Support, Arkansas Department of Health
Leta Anthony, Chairwoman, Metropolitan Housing Alliance
Ron Bara, Ward 6 Representative, Age-Friendly Little Rock Commission
Jim Billings, Director of Communications, City of North Little Rock
Cindy Gillespie, Secretary, Arkansas Department of Human Services
The Honorable Judge Barry Hyde, Pulaski County
Christina Clark, Vice Chancellor for Institutional Support Services and Chief Operating Officer, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
Ellon Cockrill, Secretary, Rotary Club of Little Rock
Nate Coulter, Executive Director, Central Arkansas Library System
Jim Dailey, Former Tourism Director, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, Former Mayor, City of Little Rock
Josh Davenport, Vice Chairman, Argenta Downtown Council
Cathy Dickinson, Chief Human Resources Officer, Baptist Health
Dr. Margaret Ellibee, Chancellor, UA – Pulaski Technical College
The Honorable Denise Ennett, State Representative, District 36
Jill Floyd, Director of Community Outreach, CDI Contractors
Mary Henthorn, Member, Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods
Raymond Hunter, Community Employment Coordinator, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System
Hank Kelley, Member, Little Rock Regional Chamber Fifty for the Future
Miguel Lopez, Member, Southwest Little Rock Business Alliance
Cedric Martin, Director of Human Resources, Welspun
Greg Nation, Public Transportation Administrator, Arkansas Department of Transportation
Wyck Nisbet, Treasurer, Downtown Little Rock Partnership
Nicholas Norfolk, Rock Region METRO Rider
Antwan Phillips, Attorney, Wright Lindsey Jennings
Mike Poore, Superintendent, Little Rock School District
Kristine Puckett, Deputy Tourism Director, Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
Hunter Sadler, District Representative, Office of Representative French Hill (AR02)
Joe Stanley, Board Member, studioMAIN
Lou Tobian, Arkansas Director of Outreach and Education, AARP
Tab Townsell, Executive Director, Metroplan
Steve Varady, Member, Partners for Inclusive Communities
Alison Williams, Chief of Staff, Office of Governor Asa Hutchinson
Michelle Wright, Chief of Social Work Services, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System
The METRO Board of Directors is the 12-member board of Pulaski County residents who govern METRO. Although the Board is actively engaged in the R.I.D.E. 2020 project and is giving METRO input alongside riders, the Stakeholder Advisory Committee, elected officials, employers and other community stakeholders, the final R.I.D.E. 2020 transit network plan recommendation will come from the TMD consulting team leads. Any service changes that are recommended in the final R.I.D.E. 2020 transit network plan will not go into effect until a new interlocal agreement is created with a new local jurisdiction funding contribution formula. Any related service changes will be implemented in a separate, annual service enhancements process.
R.I.D.E. 2020 Does Address
R.I.D.E. 2020 is focused on the METRO fixed route and express route bus network, as well as the relatively new METRO Connect on-demand microtransit service, which recently permanently replaced Route 9 John Barrow Road (pending the outcome of recommendations from the final R.I.D.E. 2020 transit network plan) and has replaced Route 21 Riverdale as part of a 1-year pilot project.
The project will include a review of recommendations from previous planning work for METRO, METRO’s current transfer pass fare policy and, most importantly, a comprehensive review of the local jurisdiction funding contribution formula.
The project will also produce a recommended funding strategy for potential new local jurisdictions funding partners, bringing a regional focus to the plan. The strategy will allow METRO to provide clear funding costs to expand transit service to potentially interested areas such as Benton, Bryant, Saline County, Cabot, Lonoke County, Conway and Faulkner County. This will allow jurisdictions to better determine whether they have the resources needed to implement transit in their areas.
R.I.D.E. 2020 Does NOT Address
Although these are important aspects of transit service, the R.I.D.E. 2020 project will not focus on streetcar or paratransit service, safety and security plans, or stop amenities, including shelter and bench placement and other transit amenities. Once the final R.I.D.E. 2020 transit network plan is recommended and a new interlocal agreement with a new local funding structure has been created, METRO will engage in a separate annual service enhancements process to implement any related route changes. Once the annual service enhancements are implemented, an assessment of existing shelter, bench and other stop amenities will follow.
In Fall 2019, Rock Region METRO began internal work for its comprehensive operational analysis project, R.I.D.E. 2020, or Route Innovation, Development and Evaluation. Fall work included finalizing and implementing a non-rider/voter poll within Pulaski County.
The public launch of the project took place the week of Jan. 20, 2020, with 15 meetings with various stakeholders – riders, the general public/potential riders, METRO staff members, including bus operators, the METRO Board of Directors, members of the R.I.D.E. Stakeholder Advisory Committee, elected officials, neighborhood association presidents, major employers and community leaders.
The METRO Board of Directors and Stakeholder Advisory Committee will discuss the study’s market overview of central Arkansas, possible funding contribution formula changes and transit network design principles in a March visit with the TMD consulting team and METRO staff.
In July, METRO will engage in public outreach to share a draft R.I.D.E. 2020 transit network plan and collect feedback from riders and non-riders/potential riders on the plan.
The TMD consulting team will present a final R.I.D.E. 2020 transit network plan in July 2020. This step concludes the TMD consulting team’s work.
Steps after the final plan is recommended will include METRO leading the creation of a new local jurisdiction funding contribution formula and, after that, engaging in a separate annual service enhancements process to implement service changes related to the final R.I.D.E. 2020 transit network plan.
The R.I.D.E. 2020 project concludes just as METRO begins finalizing its FY 2021 annual operating budget. The initial, separate annual service enhancements process related to the final R.I.D.E. 2020 transit network plan takes place in Spring/Summer 2021, pending METRO’s COVID-19 response, with possible adjustments needed as the agency navigates the global pandemic.