Portsmouth begins exploration of introducing microtransit service to the City

January 17, 2019

Next week the City of Portsmouth will be issuing a request for qualifications seeking the operation of a short-distance public transportation service (also referred to as microtransit). 

Over the past several years, City staff have been researching shared-ride and on-demand transportation options to implement as part of the City’s growing transportation and parking program. Now that the new Foundry Place Parking Garage is open, the City is taking the next steps to invite proposals and analyze different models and services to introduce to the community. 

Given the emerging trends in on-demand and shared-ride transportation, the City will be seeking companies that have the capability to allow users to request a ride through a mobile app, website, and by phone and to provide riders with an estimated time of arrival based on driver availability.

According to Planning Director Juliet Walker, this request for qualifications is an opportunity to analyze different scopes of services and see what best fits the needs of the community. “The objectives of this service are to expand parking options, reduce traffic congestion, and provide another alternative transportation option for residents, employees, and visitors to get to and from destinations. While our current, seasonal shuttle service has allowed for quick parking and access to the downtown’s Hanover Garage, we’re looking to take this a step further to not only better support our infrastructure but also offer a more flexible option that appeals to both younger and older populations.” 

City Manager John Bohenko emphasizes that this is just an initial, exploratory step of the process. “Upon reviewing qualifications, we will need to conduct a cost estimate for this entire operation; residents should know that operation costs would not come from local taxation but rather the Parking Fund. It is our hope that we can ultimately initiate a transit network that can better support our residents as well our many employees. Depending on the service and expected finances, this could even turn into an opportunity for local hospitality companies and other organizations to partner with us to grow this type of service.”

Once the request for qualifications has been issued, proposals will be accepted over the next four weeks. The City aims to introduce a microtransit service, or initial pilot program, by 2020 prior to scheduled renovations to the High Hanover Garage. For more information on bids and proposals, please visit https://www.cityofportsmouth.com/finance/purchasing-bids-and-proposals​.

Image: Potential range of microtransit service

Microtransit map