April 15, 2021 (Georgetown, Del.) -- This week, Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC), in partnership with Via, the leader in TransitTech, launched DART Connect, the state’s first on-demand microtransit service that will transform mobility in the rural communities of Georgetown and Millsboro in Sussex County, Delaware. DART Connect is a pilot project funded under the Federal Transit Administration’s Accelerating Innovative Mobility highly competitive grant program.
Customers can use the new DART Connect smartphone app or dial 1-800-652-DART, option 3 to request a ride, on-the-spot, anywhere within the service zones of Georgetown and Millsboro, or to travel between the two towns. On-demand microtransit uses smaller vehicles to provide shared rides within 15 minutes of a ride request. DART Connect replaces the Flex Routes 901 and 902 which served fixed destinations throughout Georgetown and Millsboro on an hourly schedule. On the first day of launch, ridership on DART Connect surpassed the average daily ridership of the previous 901 and 902 Flex routes.
Georgetown, designated as a Federal Opportunity Zone, and Millsboro are key employment and health services hubs with strong agricultural and manufacturing sectors. DART Connect increases service frequency and expands access to transit for thousands of residents, workers and visitors lacking access to a vehicle or who rely on bus service to travel to jobs, medical and social services throughout these communities.
“Our customers across the state have been requesting transit services in many hard to serve areas, and we are excited to launch this innovative approach to providing people the mobility they need,” stated John Sisson, Chief Executive Officer, Delaware Transit Corporation, which operates DART First State transit service. “The full-scale deployment of this service is expected to be a game changer for the transit industry, especially for those systems serving more rural and suburban areas.”
“We continue to look for opportunities to expand public transportation to underserved areas of the state and we hope this pilot program will serve as a model that we can implement in other areas of our state going forward,” said Nicole Majeski, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation.
Governor John Carney added, “By introducing on-demand transit, we are taking the first step to ensure Georgetown and Millsboro residents and workers have access to an affordable option to safely reach jobs, appointments and other activities that many of us take for granted.”
"We’ve heard for years that connecting residents of our most rural and underserved parts of Sussex County to their jobs, doctor’s appointments, goods and services is a challenge that will take a major investment to overcome,” said Delaware’s Congressional Delegation of Senators Tom Carper, Chris Coons and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (all D-Del). “This past year has proven especially hard as we are trying to connect residents to health care, vaccines, and job opportunities. This is why we are proud to support this federal funding which will bridge the transportation gap that has hindered Sussex County residents for so long.”
“Nearly six percent of households in Sussex County lack access to a vehicle,” said Veronica Vanterpool, DTC’s Chief Innovation Officer and project manager for DART Connect. “It is important that transit agencies test new technologies and explore innovative service models to provide quality bus service for our customers, especially those with limited mobility options.”
Via’s innovative IMS technology will create a fully connected mobility network that transforms the way DTC provides transit service, particularly in rural, low-density communities, where service can be infrequent and ridership can be low. DART Connect, is technology-powered transit that will reduce barriers to transit access, such as the lack of first/last mile connectivity to transit and strengthen the employment sector in rural Sussex County. The results of this pilot project will serve as a blueprint for cities and transit agencies across the US to expand access to affordable, efficient and equitable transportation solutions.
“We are proud to partner with Delaware Transit Corporation to expand access to equitable, efficient and sustainable transportation for rural communities," said Via CEO and co-founder Daniel Ramot. "This new service demonstrates the tremendous opportunities that are created when Federal funding is made available for tech-enabled transit solutions.”
Phases two and three of the DART Connect pilot will allow customers to use the DART Connect app, and pay the $2 fare using the existing DART Pass app, to plan and book a trip on DTC’s 62 bus route network to connect to destinations throughout the county and state. DART Connect will be the first app in the state to allow customers to plan, book, pay and track their ride request in one seamless experience.
The DART Connect app is also available in Spanish to ensure broader use for the significant Latino population throughout Georgetown and Millsboro. Additional information will be available about the continuing implementation of the IMS system over the next few months. To learn more about DART Connect, visit https://dartfirststate.com/Programs/dartconnect/
The Delaware Transit Corporation, a subsidiary of the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), operates DART First State. For more information, please visit www.DartFirstState.com or call 1-800-652-DART. Real-Time Bus Information and DART Pass, the mobile fare payment option, are both available on the free DART Transit App (iOS and Android).
Founded in 2012, Via pioneered the TransitTech category by using new technologies to power public mobility systems, optimizing networks of dynamic shuttles, buses, wheelchair accessible vehicles, school buses, and autonomous vehicles around the globe. Building the world’s most efficient, equitable, and sustainable transportation network for all riders — including those with limited mobility, those without smartphones, and unbanked populations — Via works with its partners to lower the cost of public transit and provide accessible options that rival the convenience of a personal car at a much reduced environmental impact. At the intersection of transportation and technology, Via is a visionary market leader that combines software innovation with sophisticated service design and operational expertise to fundamentally improve the way the world moves, with more than 500 global partners on six continents, and counting.