County to offer ‘Uber-like’ on-demand bus service

County to offer ‘Uber-like’ on-demand bus service
Nassau County Executive Laura Curran in one of the new, on-demand shuttles. (Courtesy of Karen Contino)

Instead of waiting at the bus stop, what if the bus came right to your door?

That’s the idea behind a new, “Uber-like” service announced last Thursday by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran. The Nassau Inter-County Express bus service began testing the service, which allows residents to summon a smaller vehicle to their home, last week.

“NICE is essential to the region’s economic vitality, and with further innovation and investment, the benefit to the greater community, as well as riders, can be significantly increased,” she said.

The pilot program will run weekdays during peak demand: 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 to 7 p.m. The service will operate over an area bounded by Hempstead Turnpike to the north, Wantagh Parkway to the east, Merrick Road to the south, and Meadowbrook Parkway to the west. The section contains part of East Meadow, North Bellmore and North Merrick, all of which lost some bus service last year due to budget shortfalls. Despite that, NICE said there is demand for public transit in this area.

The program will be funded by Transdev, the operator of the Nassau’s public bus system. There will be three 26-foot shuttle-style buses, which include 14 seats, three wheelchair stations and a wheelchair lift.

Passengers will use the system similarly to the way they would use Uber or another ride-sharing service. A ride is requested through the GoMobile app and the shuttle will arrive at the person’s location. The app will give a time for pickup and how long the trip will take. Should the rider accept, the charge is $4.50, more than the regular bus service, but less than a taxi. Able-Ride passengers who make a 24-hour advanced reservation will pay $3.75.

The pick-up spot and destination must both be within the service area for the trip to be accepted.

A news release from Curran said that the program could be expanded to other parts of the county with poorly utilized or no bus service because it would be cheaper than a new bus route. 

The county’s investments in NICE technology and focus on system planning have driven innovation that is improving service in response to customer needs,” said NICE Chief Executive Officer Michael Setzer.

The county also announced that the n40/41 bus line, which runs between Mineola and Freeport, will be running a “schedule-less” route. Instead of arriving at predetermined times, buses will come every 10 minutes during peak hours. A statement from the county said this was because GPS was recently installed in buses on the route, part of several technology upgrades across the NICE bus service.

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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