AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city of Round Rock approved a contract with an on-demand taxi service — zTrip — to provide people with a more flexible form of public transit than the traditional bus line.

The five-year contract, worth $6,258,565.60, will be paid from the city’s general fund and from federal funding.

How it works

The zTrip service acts very similarly to how other rideshare apps, like Uber and Lyft, work.

Riders can hail a ride by using either an app, online, or via phone. The taxi service will give someone a nearby “virtual bus stop” to meet their ride, which they could share with other people.

The taxi service will then drop you off within blocks of your final destination. The service will add to the already existing fixed-bus line that runs through the city.

Fares will cost anywhere between $3-$5 and the rides are ADA compliant, meaning they will provide curb-to-curb rides for those with a disability.

Changes to paratransit services in Round Rock

As the city adds the new mobility-on-demand service, it also has reduced the number of fixed bus routes and decreased the scope of its paratransit services.

In order to obtain federal funding for a bus route, the city must provide paratransit services within three-quarters of a mile of a fixed bus route. Originally, the city had extended its paratransit services within 1.5 miles of the fixed bus route, meaning some people who live outside of the city limits were qualified to receive the service.

The new paratransit service area is highlighted in blue in the picture below. The grey shaded area is the city limits.

New paratransit service area in Round Rock.

The new paratransit service area, which took affect in January, is smaller in scope than what it used to be. The mobility-on-demand service area is larger and provides rides to those with a disability. The MOD service area is the green shaded area in the picture below.

New mobility-on-demand service area in Round Rock.

According to Gary Hudder, the city’s transportation director, 130 people had signed up and were eligible for paratransit services. But with the new changes, a total of six people who used to be under the paratransit services have now fallen outside of both the blue and green shaded area with the new changes.

City council talked about the possibility of expanding the MOD service area to include these six people who were affected.

“Certainly that can be modified, but there would be a cost then,” Hudder explained to council.

zTrip CEO Bill George was at the city council meeting and spoke about the six people who would fall out of the service area. George said his company will make sure those six people are covered under the service and made a commitment to the city that zTrip would cover any additional cost to do so.

George said the company will provide that until the end of the year, giving the city more time to evaluate the service and make any plans on expanding the service area.