Sacramento Regional Transit has entered the on-demand, ride-hailing business.
Its Smart Ride app is part of a trial program, with mini buses now available to provide rides for people in Citrus Heights.
Peter Firpo is in wheelchair and was the first person to use Smart Ride. He signed up at the last minute to get to the news conference announcing the service.
"Paratransit was late. So, I scrambled, grabbed a coupon, I registered an account and I ordered a bus,” he explained. “If I didn't, Paratransit wouldn't have got me here in time. I probably would have been still on the bus right now."
The new Smart Ride app offers rides on Sac RT's "mini buses" from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. within Citrus Heights’ city limits. Firpo says to ride Paratransit, he must schedule a ride 24 hours in advance and other ride-sharing services aren't available.
"I've been pursuing on-demand transportation for people with disabilities because Uber and Lyft don't really have a lot of options. You're not going to find a ride for someone with a power chair," he said.
Henry Li is the head of Sac RT. He says the cost is $1.35 for people with an RT pass and $2.75 for people without.
"This is first kind of service across the nation. Right now, only less than 10 cities across the nation have this or are going to implement this," Li said.
He added that the service could soon take riders from Citrus Heights to the Watt Avenue/I-80 light-rail station.
Sac RT says 3,000 people are expected to use the service as many as half a million times in the next year. RT did not have a cost estimate for the program, but hopes the smaller buses will make it more cost-effective.
Firpo has high hopes. “This is a life-changer for me. It's gonna be a life-changer for a lot of people I hope," he said.