BATA launches new Link On-Demand pilot starting Aug. 1

July 8, 2020
The new pilot will upgrade the agency’s traditional City Link Dial-a-Ride.

The Bay Area Transportation Authority (BATA) is launching Link On-Demand, a new on-demand microtransit pilot program beginning Aug. 1.

Similar to ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, Link On-Demand uses a smartphone app for riders to request customized curb-to-curb trips. Along the way, a transit van or small bus may pick up other passengers who also request a ride. This pilot service will initially only be available in the Traverse City area and replaces BATA’s City Link service that provided rides through a traditional dial-a-ride advanced reservation system. This upgraded service also accommodates people with disabilities with all vehicles incorporating an accessible lift for mobility devices.

How it works

The new pilot program will be implemented in partnership with BATA and TransLoc, a Ford Smart Mobility Company. To use Link On-Demand, passengers first download the free TransLoc app to their smartphone by visiting the Apple or Google Play app stores, setup an account and then request a ride. Rides can be requested in real-time or up to one day in advance. Following a Link On-Demand request, the app will provide passengers with an estimated pick-up time, track their bus in real-time and alert them when their ride is about to arrive. Passengers will also be notified when their ride is about to reach their desired destination. Service is available from 6:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Link On-Demand customers will also be able to request same-day or advanced rides by calling BATA Customer Service at 231.941.2324 or by going online to Wait times are subject to vehicle availability and demand and are estimated to be 30 minutes or less.

Cost and pilot dates

The cost to ride is $6.00 per one-way trip or $3.00 for those eligible for reduced fare (seniors, students, persons with disabilities and veterans/active military). The fare is consistent with BATA’s current same-day Link reservation rate. Payment options include cash, pre-paid ticket or credit/debit cards through the mobile app. This pilot program will operate in the Traverse City area and will run for 12 months from Aug. 1, 2020 through July 31, 2021. BATA says if the pilot program goes well it may continue and become a permanent part of BATA’s regular Link service.

“Developing new technologies and integrating responsive transit solutions is driven by our customers’ expectations for convenient service and timely mobility,” said Kelly Dunham, BATA executive director. “Link On-Demand will bring additional ride availability. It will also make it easier for customers to request rides in real-time when people need them and increase efficiency allowing us to provide expanded services in the future as demand increases for public transportation in our community.”

Village Link service remains in place taking advanced reservations for rides outside of the Traverse City service area and in Leelanau and greater Grand Traverse Counties. BATA’s fixed route Loop and Bayline services and schedules will not be impacted.

Grant supported

BATA has been awarded $345,624 in state and federal funds through Federal Transit Administration’s Integrated Mobility Innovation (IMI) Program towards the purchase of an on-demand innovative transportation software solution and supporting technology. These funds, coupled with an additional $50,000 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, in partnership with Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, will support the pilot and integrate the viability of on-demand non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) later this year.

Link On-Demand open house

BATA will be hosting a Link On-Demand Open House at BATA’s Hall Street Transfer Station on July 14 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. for anyone wanting to ask questions or learn more about the new service. A postcard is being mailed to all City Link riders and questions can be sent by e-mailing [email protected], calling 231.941.2324 or visiting BATA’s website.