Microtransit service will begin in Conway in late October.
The Rock Region Metro transit agency has scheduled two public meetings — 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Sept. 13 and 5:30 p.m.-7 p.m. Sept. 14, both at Conway City Hall, 1111 Main St., Conway — where officials will explain the service to Conway residents. A specific start date will be announced.
The service will be called Metro Connect Conway. It will allow riders to hail transit vehicles on demand, from smartphones or by calling a phone number to book a ride. Initially, transit will run two vehicles, circulating in a defined zone, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except for six holidays when the transit system is closed.
“The service we propose, which starts with two vehicles in service during operating hours, was simulated to result in wait times of 30 minutes or less and travel times of 20 minutes or less up to approximately 100 passenger trips per day,” Becca Green, director of public engagement for Rock Region Metro, said in an email.
Green added that if the number of passenger trips exceeds 100, the transit agency and city could “adjust the service to maintain reasonable wait and travel times.”
The service is similar to what Rock Region Metro transit makes available to some of its riders in Pulaski County.
Microtransit zones are designed to offer public transit in areas that don’t have the high demand that would require a full-size bus.
Conway and Rock Region Metro officials have been working together for several years to establish transit options.
“Ever since Conway became eligible for its own federal public transit funding, we’ve been working on what type of service would best meet the needs of our residents and guests,” Mayor Bart Castleberry said in a statement.
“We are excited to share more with the community about our pending microtransit service — where it will go and how easy it is to use.”
“Public transit service will only enhance the city’s most recent initiatives as we continue to progressively plan and develop an appealing place to live, work and play,” said Castleberry.
Conway and Rock Region Metro have settled on an approximate price of $54,236 per month, or $650,832 per year.
The city will initially use Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funds that it became eligible to benefit from. Rock Region Metro is the designated recipient of Conway’s federal public transit funding, Green said.
Microtransit service for the Faulkner County seat represents the Rock Region Metro transit agency’s first foray outside Pulaski County.
Rock Region Metro operates the state’s largest public transit service.
Service includes Little Rock, North Little Rock and parts of Pulaski County with fixed-route bus service; a 3.4-mile streetcar system serving downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock; an on-demand paratransit service; an on-demand ride-hailing service; and Metro Pool, a jobs-access ride-sharing service.