April 1, 2024

New Ridesharing Service to Launch in Comstock Charter Township

Metro to Introduce On-Demand Pilot Project

There’s a new service in town aimed at helping people get where they want to go, and it promises to do so quickly, easily, and affordably.

Metro Link, a service of Metro, is an app-driven, on-demand rideshare service that combines the best aspects of public transportation with the flexibility of the private on-demand transportation services that have gained popularity in recent years. The pilot service is set to launch on April 15 and run through the end of 2025.

A Metro Link-Branded Van

“The goal of Metro Link is to use technology to expand access to equitable, flexible public transportation in the Kalamazoo area through extending the reach of Metro’s bus network,” said Metro Executive Director Sean McBride.

Metro Link will provide rides in three distinct service areas—including the portion of Comstock Township that participates in the Central County Transportation Authority (CCTA) millage. Each zone overlaps significantly with existing bus routes, making it easy to extend a trip to the downtown transportation hub and beyond.

The Metro Link East Zone

A rider in the Comstock service zone will be able to book a ride through the new Metro Link app (available in Google Play/App Stores starting on April 10) or by calling (269) 388-6373. The rider will be matched with others headed in the same direction in a Metro Link-branded vehicle for a quick, efficient shared trip. The app will also show riders the option to take fixed-route trips to their destination or take a Metro Link ride and then transfer to a Metro bus.

Comstock Township Supervisor Randy Thompson, a longtime member of the CCTA board of directors, has been an advocate for the service since it became a topic of conversation more than a year ago. “Comstock Township needs good transportation to employment, medical services, shopping, and recreation—not to mention voting,” he said. “Our residents are going to have more access to vital services in our community.”

“A particular strength of this service is that riders can trust the professionally-maintained vehicles that are driven by professionally-trained drivers,” McBride said, adding that Metro Link drivers must adhere to the same drug testing standards as bus drivers.

The base fare the rideshare service will be $1.50 with discounts for seniors and those with disabilities. Payment can be made by debit or credit card through the Metro Link app when booking the ride.

Microtransit Zones with Bus Routes

“This is a pilot program,” McBride said, “and we expect that it will evolve as we learn how riders are using the service.”

Metro Link is just the latest service in the emerging global transportation trend of “micro-transit,” and it has partnered with Via, a global leader in this new form of public transportation that has existed for about ten years but experienced rapid growth during recent years. Via provides similar services in 700 markets in 40 countries with a strong presence in Michigan. Cities such as Detroit, Ann Arbor, and Muskegon have each used the firm to successfully expand access to public transportation in those markets.

Metro serves Kalamazoo, Portage, Parchment, Comstock Township, Kalamazoo Township, Oshtemo Township, and Texas Township with 20 bus routes, 961 bus stops, and a fleet of 46 buses. It also provides the Metro Connect service, a curb-to-curb, ADA-compliant paratransit service, and Metro Share, a van lending program for approved agencies that provide service to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities. Metro Connect and Metro Share are available to the 250,000 residents of Kalamazoo County’s 562 square-mile service area. Metro was founded in 1967.