A new public transit system is being planned at the University of Michigan

Nov 2, 2016

Public transit could look very different on the University of Michigan’s campus in Ann Arbor by next summer.

Reinventing Public Urban Transportation and Mobility, or RITMO, is a proposed transit system that wants to combine fixed bus routes with a ride-sharing service similar to Uber or Lyft.

According to the university, students could get rides to and from bus stops that would give them more direct routes to their destinations.

More from the University Record:

Passengers would hail rides using a smartphone app that would calculate the most efficient journey for a given destination—it could be a direct shuttle ride from A to B, a shuttle followed by a bus trip or any similar combination. The app would track the progress of each passenger and each vehicle, feeding data to a back-end system that would be optimized in real time to minimize congestion and maximize efficiency.

Pascal Van Hentenryck is a professor of Industrial and Operations Engineering at U of M. He says RITMO's aim is to cut down on bus ride times with on-demand rides.

"We are essentially making sure that people have a system which is as convenient as owning a car."

“So what we are doing is using on-demand travel using small shuttles, or small cars,” Van Hentenryck says. "We are essentially making sure that people have a system which is as convenient as owning a car, but you don't have to own your car," he says. "You basically car-share with everybody else on campus."

Van Hentenryck says that while the program would begin with human drivers, the idea is to eventually use autonomous vehicles. Testing of driverless cars would be done months before having students gets rides in them, he says.

RITMO's development is being funded by a $1.4 million grant from the Michigan Institute for Data Science, according to the university.