Georgetown Transportation Manager Lua Saluone presented an update on the city’s upcoming rideshare voucher program, which would allow residents to use a rideshare service at a discounted rate, during a May 14 City Council workshop.

The details

Under the program, riders will pay for the first $4 of each trip, and the city of Georgetown will cover the next $10. Georgetown residents will have access to the program 24/7 through an app or call center, and residents will be eligible for 10 vouchers each month.

These rides are to and from places in a geofenced area with borders that generally align with the city limits. During the workshop, members of City Council also requested extending the geofence outside city limits to include the Baylor Scott & White Medical Center and Ascension Seton Williamson Hospital in Round Rock.

Saluone said the geofence is modifiable and can be adjusted as new needs are identified.

“The great thing about this program is the ability to mold it and change it over time,” District 5 council member Kevin Pitts said.

Saluone said findings from a recently completed study estimate the city will see 8,500 rides in the first year of the program—a number that is projected to grow to 16,575 by the third year. Officials used similar programs in the nearby cities of Kyle, Pflugerville and Wylie as models.

Also of note

Council also discussed the implementation of a wheelchair-accessible vehicle, or WAV, program that would comply with Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. To meet the requirements, the WAV program will initially require 24-hour access.

“If your voucher covers 24 hours, the WAV vehicle has to be available 24 hours,” Saluone said to council. “As a year goes by and we understand the need for those WAV riders, we can start cutting back.”

The WAV program is designed to replace two vehicles contracted with CapMetro that offer paratransit services—or transportation for people with disabilities—and rides for residents age 65 and older, according to previous reporting by Community Impact.

Launched in fiscal year 2022-23, the service offers a door-to-door drop-off system and served 321 residents as of late 2022.

Senior services and limited paratransit will continue for FY 2024-25 to allow residents to properly transition, city officials said.

Through the rideshare voucher program, on-demand transportation services will be available to more people, officials said.

The background

Georgetown City Council has been searching for a viable public transportation plan since launching the GoGeo bus program in 2017.

After falling short of an initial target of 40,000 riders annually, Georgetown partnered with Lyft in 2018. During the partnership, limited-time discounts on 10 rides were offered to residents, allowing the city to analyze ridership patterns for further development of a transit-on-demand program.

During the 190-day pilot program from July 2018-January 2019, 863 users hailed a rideshare at a total cost to the city of about $46,000. The average ride cost around $10 per trip and received a subsidy of approximately $7.

City staff published and evaluated a request for proposal, or RFP, for the program after receiving approval during a September 2023 workshop meeting.

The transit-on-demand program would fulfill council’s goal of creating a public-private partnership with a transportation network company, also known as a rideshare service, Saluone said.

Next steps

The transportation department is negotiating a three-year contract with the TNC. The estimated cost for the program is $292,600 for the three years.

Development and implementation is planned to begin in August with vouchers becoming available Oct. 1.