Requests for rides blossomed during MARTA pilot program

Officials from MARTA say they're evaluating data from a six-month pilot program that offered on-demand shuttles. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

MARTA saw steady growth in the use of its on-demand shuttle service during a six-month pilot program that ended in August.

The MARTA Reach program launched in March in three metro Atlanta neighborhoods and was expanded a few months later to more areas.

It was designed to connect riders to bus and rail service. The shuttle rides cost $2.50 cents, the same as a normal bus fare.

MARTA says use of the on-demand service grew from fewer than a hundred rides per week at the beginning to 600 rides a week by early August.

In all, some 8,300 rides were booked during those six months, according to the agency. Based on the trips that were most frequently requested, MARTA believes it was mainly used by people going to work.

Georgia Tech grad students developed the MARTA Reach app with help from a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation. They used Microsoft Azure software to help analyze the data.

MARTA says it’s evaluating whether to possibly extend the pilot program or make the service permanent.