The RTA is always looking for innovative new ways to eliminate barriers to transit ridership. One of those barriers is the first and last mile portion of a rider’s commute. Not everyone can live close to transit, so the RTA tries to find solutions that improve accessibility for riders and allow them to consider public transportation as a viable option for their commute. We often see this first-last mile obstacle in the suburbs.
Recently the RTA joined the Greater Oak Brook Chamber of Commerce in a pilot project with Chariot, a microtransit solution that aims to be fast, reliable and affordable for people living in today’s cities. The pilot uses Chariot vehicles to connect commuters from the Metra station in Elmhurst to 10 commercial properties along and near Commerce Drive in Oak Brook. Riders can easily reserve a seat on a Chariot via the iOS or Android app, and hop on one of the company’s 14-passenger Ford Transit vehicles.
This pilot program is a first-of-its-kind public-private engagement with a microtransit company in the RTA region. The Chariot Ford Transit vans are outfitted with free WiFi and driven by Chariot’s professional employee drivers. Users can reserve a seat up to 45 minutes in advance on the day of their ride and meet their Chariot outside the Elmhurst Metra station or outside the properties for a ride to the Metra station.
This opportunity to work with a microtransit provider allows riders to get to jobs in a community near, but without its own, a Metra station. The project uses tools that were not available even a few years ago, with greater flexibility to respond to riders and businesses needs and lower public investment than expanding the current ‘fixed route’ transit system.
The pilot program is scheduled to run for up to two years. In the first year, 80 percent of the funds come from RTA, and 20 percent from participating property owners. In the second year, each party will be responsible for 50 percent of the cost.
Tenants in the participating Oak Brook properties ride for free, and other passengers can ride for the price of $6.30 per ride. 10-ride passes are also available for $58 (a $5 discount), and new riders may use the promo code “oakbrookfreeweek” for a free week of Chariot rides. Visit https://www.chariot.com/routes for more information.
If you work out in one of those Oak Brook properties, give it a try. Your commute will be better for it.