Metro has just completed half a year of service in our partnership with Via (an on-demand, shared ride service). We have made exciting strides in the numbers, reaching 1,600 rides per week, a tenfold increase since the first week of service. El Monte has now surpassed North Hollywood as the most popular zone.
For those of you just hearing about our partnership, a little background:
Metro’s partnership with Via is funded in part by a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Mobility on Demand (MOD) Sandbox Demonstration Grant. The goals of this pilot are to test the viability of using on-demand technology to connect people to Metro’s transit system (current and new customers) and to open the benefits of transportation network companies (TNCs) to more people by making the service more accessible.
For those of you who haven’t used the service yet:
Did you know that you can get FREE RIDES to or from select Metro and Metrolink stations this summer?
Service runs between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays. The rides are shared with other Metro patrons to reduce congestion and pollution.
If you’re traveling to or from the area shown in blue below, just download the app or call 1 (833) 917-0697 to book a ride. You don’t need a credit card or bank account, and wheelchair accessible vehicles are available.
One of the pilot program goals is to test whether an on-demand service can make it easier for customers to get to and from transit and create a more seamless travel experience.
To test this, OEI interns Oceana Gilliam and Leah Blue took Via for a test ride. Here is what they had to say about their experience:
We were hungry, so we decided to test the Via service en route from Metro’s Red Line to Porto’s Bakery in Burbank — a beloved restaurant for Southern Californians.
Our ride using the Via rideshare service was nothing short of excellent. At approximately 9:30 am, we exited the North Hollywood Station and opened the Via app, which has a very user-friendly interface. Using the Via app, we were directed to our pickup location in the park-and-ride across the street from the station— it was a quick walk and easily seen from the station exit.
After ordering the ride, the app provided us with a photograph of the driver, a vehicle description and a license plate number. We waited in the pick-up location with another rider. Since Via is a shared-ride service, it pools people who are traveling in the same direction into the same vehicle. After approximately seven minutes our driver arrived right on time. We and the other carpool rider were greeted by a friendly driver with a clean car.
While traveling to Porto’s, the Via app showed us our current location, the destination, the estimated arrival time and even the other pooled rider’s drop-off location. Our driver dropped us off right in front of Porto’s on Magnolia Blvd. We ordered a quick breakfast and then requested a Via ride back to the North Hollywood Station. After about a five-minute wait, we were on our way. Like the first driver, the second driver was friendly, informative and had a clean car.
Both trips were quick, smooth, and above all else, safe. Via provided constant real-time updates, which was helpful. Both Via drivers were friendly and happy to answer any questions that we had. It was very easy to spot the vehicles for pickup using the app in addition to the large Via logo on the side of the car. The signage at the pick-up location was also easy to read and helpful.
Overall, we had a great experience using Via and encourage others to take advantage of this convenient, easy-to-use service for their first and last mile trips.
Leah Blue (left) is an Administrative Intern with the Office of Extraordinary Innovation and Oceana Gilliam (right) was an Intern with the Office of Extraordinary Innovation before recently finishing her Master’s and landing a full time job!
Marie Sullivan is a Transportation Planning Manager and Innovation Fellow with the Office of Extraordinary Innovation