CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Charlottesville Area Transit is working on a microtransit or on-demand service pilot program, with some help from the Virginia Department of Rails and Public Transportation.

CAT and Albemarle County will be implementing the program in the Route 29 North and Pantops areas as part of a 12-month demonstration project.

DRPT awarded CAT more than $1.5 million for the project.

CAT will operate the services by buying four 20-passenger vehicles and using some of its current drivers.

The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission says this program has been developed based on information from the Albemarle County Transit Expansion Study, which was completed earlier this year.

On-demand public transit means people can book rides when they need one. An agency can then send an available vehicle, like a shuttle, to pick up and drop off people are their desired destination, within a particular area, along the lines of JAUNT.

DRPT says this style of transit system has been gaining in popularity across the country, especially in smaller cities, rural areas and areas that are more spread out.

That is because on-demand service is less cost prohibitive than a traditional fixed-route system.

Transit agencies are turning to microtransit programs to augment their existing service so they can be more flexible and responsive to the needs of riders.

CAT is just one of several agencies across Virginia that is investigating this type of program. Some localities have already launched them while others are getting ready to or are considering adding them.

More than $1.5 million in state funding is being used for this, as is $388,000 in funding from Albemarle County.

This pilot program is tentatively scheduled to begin in January.