Ozark Regional Transit to start Saturday service for on-demand transit in Rogers

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 1,749 views 

Springdale-based transit provider Ozark Regional Transit (ORT) continues to expand its on-demand transit service in Rogers as Northwest Arkansas ridership remains down through the first half of the year.

ORT announced Monday (Aug. 3) it will offer the on-demand transit service on Saturday and later on Friday.

Starting Friday (Aug. 7), the service will be extended until 10 p.m. on Fridays. The Saturday service will begin Saturday (Aug. 8) and run from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The service is expected to be provided for those who are dining and taking part in evening entertainment and to boost business in the area, according to a news release.

In July, ORT expanded its on-demand transit service by offering a new route and extended hours. The existing service has 112 bus stops in Rogers and more are being designed and used to meet demand.

ORT previously announced the expanded service would replace the existing fixed-route service in the city. Route 54 ceased operations in July, and stops along the route have transitioned to on-demand transit. Additional stops are available at NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC), Scottsdale Center, the Pinnacle Hills area and Walmart along Pleasant Grove Road.

The expanded bus service is within the 2020 budget for the city, and it will not cost more for the city, said Jeff Hatley, mobility manager and public information officer for ORT.

ORT had offered a Saturday service previously, but it was discontinued. Fixed routes in Bentonville, Fayetteville, Springdale operate Monday through Friday. ORT bus service is fare-free amid the COVID-19 pandemic. ORT established on-demand transit service in Rogers on Jan. 20 and has since replaced the fixed routes in the city.

The on-demand transit service allows riders to schedule trips from one bus stop to another using the On Demand Transit: Rider App, which was developed by Pantonium. The app is available for Android or Apple smartphones. Riders also can schedule trips online at www.transit.org or by calling 479-756-5901. Or, riders can board an on-demand transit bus and tell the driver where they want to go.

ORT has three fixed routes in Fayetteville, three in Springdale and one in Bentonville. The on-demand service in Rogers is being operated with two buses. The transit provider also offers express bus service between Fayetteville and Bentonville, which has been popular with NWACC students.

In June, total ridership through all modes ORT offers declined 39.9% to 12,458, from 20,714 in the same month in 2019. Through the first half of 2020, the ridership has fallen 27.5% to 100,703, from 138,827 in the same period in 2019. Total ridership includes passenger numbers from all bus routes, paratransit, and charter and school service.