In an effort to devise a solution to its public transportation needs, the city of Arlington has partnered with Via, a transportation network and ridesharing company based in New York City, and will be among the first cities in the nation to offer on-demand ridesharing.
The Via rideshare program launched December 11, and is designed to provide transportation to key areas of the city. For $3 per trip, customers can book a seat in a six-passenger Mercedes-Benz van through the Via app. Via's technology will match them with others going their way.
The rideshare pilot program replaces and expands the Metro Arlington Xpress, or MAX, commuter bus service, which ends December 31.
Mayor Jeff Williams presided over a launch celebration in downtown Arlington on December 11, stating that the city was at the beginning of "an exciting transportation technology revolution."
"Arlington's Via Rideshare Pilot Program is the latest example of our city's willingness to explore innovative transportation technology solutions for our residents, employees, students, and visitors," he said.
Via CEO and co-founder Daniel Ramot said that the venture would reimagine the future of transportation, stating, "Via is thrilled to be partnering with the city of Arlington to launch the first ever fully dynamic on-demand public transportation solution."
The Arlington City Council approved a contract with Via in November to develop and operate the pilot program. Bill Verkest, chairman of the city's Transportation Advisory Committee, stated that they recommended Rideshare as a near-term solution after a year of exploring transportation options.
Via was first launched in New York in September 2013. It currently also operates in Chicago and Washington, D.C., providing more than 1.5 million rides per month. The company also licenses its on-demand transit technology to transportation operators globally.
In Arlington, the Via rideshare service is available Monday-Saturday, from 7 am-9 pm on weekdays and 9 am-9 pm on Saturdays.
The service area will initially encompass downtown, the Cultural Arts District, the University of Texas at Arlington, the Entertainment District, and the area around Arlington Memorial Hospital. Customers can also connect to the TRE Centreport/DFW Airport Station, where they can then catch a commuter train to Dallas or Fort Worth.
By next summer, the service area will expand to incorporate portions of the city between I-30 and I-20, including retail destinations such as the Parks Mall and Arlington Highlands.
Service areas may shift over time. Service area maps and operating hours can be found through the Via app or Via's website at www.ridewithvia.com/arlington.
The City of Arlington will contribute approximately one third of the project cost, in the amount of $322,500. The remainder comes from the Federal Transit Administration. The contract period is for one year, with four one-year renewal options. Data collected through the rideshare service will help shape the City Council’s future transportation planning decisions.