Leader Publications
Jul 10, 2024
Written by Editorial Staff

Dowagiac DART to launch on-demand transit service

DOWAGIAC — A new, Uber-like service is on the way that will make it even easier for Dowagiac residents to move around the city.

Authority’s Dowagiac Dial-A-Ride Transit (DART) on Demand pilot program will soft launch on Friday, July 12. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., DART service will now be accessible via the Ride Pingo app, where users can request a ride and track the pickup vehicle’s status, similar to apps like Uber and Lyft. Riders can download the Ride Pingo app from their phone’s respective app store, complete a simple one-time setup process and be ready to go. 

“We hope that it makes it more convenient to get a ride. It’s pretty much an instant response from the system versus having to call,” said CCTA Executive Director Gerry Bundle. “We hope it’ll result in them being picked up faster, so less waiting time for a bus to come as well as less time on the bus to get them where they need to go.”

One of the oldest Dial-A-Ride services in Michigan, Dowagiac DART began service in June 1975 with a three-bus fleet. “The City of Dowagiac’s long-term focus has always been improving accessible services,” said City Manager Kevin Anderson. “With the launch of on-demand service, we are making the freedom to move even easier for our residents. Riders can easily track the location of their ride. This app makes transportation more convenient, concise, and responsive.” 

The Ride Pingo app is a product of The Routing Company, a global on-demand vehicle routing and management platform that partners with cities to power the future of public transit. According to Bundle, Dowagiac was selected from dozens of municipalities across the state to pilot TRC’s ride sharing service free of charge for six months. TRC will use the data obtained during the pilot program to better improve its system.

“It was a competitive situation that went through several interviews all the way up to their CEO,” Bundle said. “We were selected from dozens of candidates. I thought that the best application for it – because it allows a mobile app and instantaneous optimization of routes to minimize the amount of time that somebody is on the bus – would be a really good fit for Dowagiac.”

“We are thrilled to support the City of Dowagiac in its pursuit of connected, responsive, and flexible transit where every rider is included,” said The Routing Company CEO James Cox. “Launching on-demand service, powered by Pingo, delivers on the City of Dowagiac’s commitment to offering the safest and most convenient service possible.” 

As riders and drivers get acquainted with the new system, all Dowagiac DART on Demand rides booked through the Ride Pingo app will be free for the remainder of July. Dowagiac DART will also use back-end operations management features of TRC’s Pingo Rural platform, a product package that supercharges rural transit with on-demand and commingled service that is optimized for rural deployments. 

The company was founded by researchers in ridesharing optimization from MIT and TU Delft, who then brought on ridesharing experts including the developers of UberPOOL and UberBus. 

Benefits for Dowagiac and its citizens 

DART on Demand is another step forward in the city’s long-term focus on continuously improving accessible services. Anyone within the service area can access Dowagiac DART on Demand services. All buses have lifts to accommodate wheelchairs and other limited mobility needs. With DART on Demand, riders will be able to book their ride and track its location en route, increasing convenience and transparency. 

If the program is received well, Bundle and Anderson hope to see the service expanded in Cass County. “I think a lot of smaller rural areas have the same kind of transportation needs and desires that we have and if we can do this and if we can do this well, certainly it has implications for the rest of Cass County now that the millage has passed and for other similar areas throughout the state,” Anderson said. “We’re really looking forward to not only what it can do here but potentially if we can link more deeply into the Cass County area and provide greater transportation coverage for people living in Dowagiac, it’ll be a big win-win for all parties.”


The app can be downloaded on phones from iOS and Android app stores by searching “Ride Pingo.”  Service within the City limits, with some additional areas as follows, will continue to be available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Service area includes:  North to the Dowagiac Conservation Club  South to Dowagiac Auto  West of Apostolic Lighthouse Church  East to Southwestern Michigan College (Dailey Road entrance)  Cass County service is available Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dowagiac’s DART on Demand is a pilot program and will not currently impact county-wide service. Dowagiac DART service will still be accessible via the phone for those who choose not to use the on-demand feature, call (269)782-3300. 

The process for coordinating with Cass County Public Transit, which operates a county-wide transit service, remains the same. They may be contacted at (269) 445-2455, and Cass Transit service requires a 24-hour advance reservation. 

When calling to request service, riders are asked to have the following information available:

Where you will be picked up. 

Where you are going. 

When you need to be there, or when you can leave your home. 


While riders can pay through the app, they may still pay with cash or a multi-ticket punch card on DART vehicles. There is no additional cost to use the DART on Demand service.

Current pricing for rides within the service area — one-way:  Regular (18-62 years old): $2  11-punch ticket: $20  Youth/student (under 18 years old): $1  11-punch ticket: 10  Senior/disabled (62+): $1  10-punch ticket: $7.50  SMC Student (with ID) $2 

A fact page with details on the service, links to both app stores, hours, pricing, and more can be found at cityofdowagiac.com.

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