"Community-based" transit is a topic that we have addressed from time-to-time, and the Center for Transportation Studies (Center for Transportation Studies - University of Minnesota has a page on the related topic of Community Transportation
However, I thought it would be useful to highlight a post from our Humphrey Institute colleagues at the Center for Democracy and Citizenship By the People - A vehicle for learning in St. Paul
They have worked to create a small set of transit circulators that meet a particular need at a particular time. While I don't believe these circulators can replace major transit systems, I also don't believe they need to. Rather, they are outstanding complements, providing additional customized service that fills gaps left by larger providers. The existence of such circulators thus meets the particular mobility needs of a population, freeing them from the need to have access to a personal automobile.
It would be interesting to learn more about how these circulators are financed, and to develop a model for providing such service on a wider basis