Springdale-based transit provider Ozark Regional Transit will expand its on-demand transit service in Rogers by offering a new route and extended hours.
ORT announced Wednesday (July 8) the new service will start Monday (July 13) and will replace an existing fixed-route in the city. The last day of the fixed-route will be Friday.
The existing on-demand transit service has 112 bus stops and more are being designed and can be used as needs are determined. Service hours will be extended by one hour, and hours of operation will be from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
After Friday, Route 54 in Rogers will cease operations, said Jeff Hatley, public information officer for ORT. The addition of the on-demand route will not affect how much the city pays ORT to provide service in the city.
“Rogers is diverting financial resources from the (Route 54) to the second (on-demand transit) route,” Hatley said, adding that Rogers riders have preferred on-demand transit as fewer people were using the fixed-route service. Route 54 is the only existing fixed route in the city, he said.
Asked about other Northwest Arkansas cities considering on-demand transit, Hatley said he’s unaware of this, but this could change. He explained that as a result of the efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, he has not been able to promote on-demand transit or other ORT-related topics, but he believes other cities are aware of the service.
Ridership has fallen across all transit modes, including on-demand transit, because of COVID, he added.
“Once we’re back to normal, I’m sure the success of the model and actual comparable ridership numbers will draw plenty of interest,” Hatley said.
Total ridership declined 53% in May, from the same month in 2019. Between January and May, ridership has fallen 25.3% to 88,245, from 118,113 in the same period in 2019. ORT’s service in Bentonville, Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers along with its rural services will remain fare-free through October in light of the pandemic.
On Jan. 20, ORT started the on-demand transit service in Rogers.