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Rideshare Company Via Aims to Change Public Transit With Capital Metro Partnership

  • Emma Sandler
  • March 22, 2017
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Via is slated to partner with Capital Metro in early June, bringing its public transit-facing services to Austin, Texas, Mobility Buzz has learned.

The partnership is part of Via’s larger mission to change and enhance public transportation, Chris Snyder, Via’s vice president of expansion, told Mobility Buzz.

While New York City-based Via is best known for providing shared rides for a flat rate in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Chicago, the company is also working behind the scenes to power public transit agencies like Keolis in France, and most recently Arriva in the United Kingdom.

Via will work with Capital Metro, a public transit agency, to deploy an on-demand shuttle that upgrades an existing dial-a-ride service within a mixed-use neighborhood in Austin, Snyder said.

The goal is to take a legacy dial-a-ride system and upgrade it to a fully on-demand service that responds in real time to rider demand, he said. “And then, assuming adoption is strong and user experience is high, we will then scale that to other communities that share this type of challenge,”  he added.

Separately, Via recently partnered with Arriva, a U.K. bus service, to create an app called ArrivaClick. The app allows riders around Kent Science Park and Sittingbourne in Southeast England to request a minibus from the rider’s pick-up point and be dropped off at a destination of that person’s choosing; passengers will then be matched with other riders heading in the same destination.

Via is hoping this will drive some behavioral change and encourage people who are used to driving or paying for a cab to instead ride public transit, Snyder said.

“Our vision of the future includes an expansion of public transit’s role, but that can’t happen if we rely on $100 million subway or bus lines … Our goal is not to hail a cab faster, but to build a better bus,” he said.

Via’s front-facing operations are expected to expand in the future, Snyder said. The company sees an “incredible opportunity” for Via’s on-demand technology to improve public transit in an efficient and more cost-effective way, he added.

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