(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- The Bowser Administration, though the Department of For-Hire Vehicles (DFHV), has launched a service with Via, the company that provides digital infrastructure to power public mobility, to provide affordable, on-demand transportation for essential healthcare workers at Howard University Hospital and United Medical Center during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. DFHV, Via and operator Transco have partnered to transform and repurpose D.C. Neighborhood Connect, formerly D.C. Microtransit, to provide exclusive rides to those workers to and from their work and homes after 9 p.m.
Typically, D.C. Neighborhood Connect services Ward 4, 5, and 8, but to ensure widespread transportation access for these essential workers, the service zone has been expanded to cover all of the District, as well as Prince George’s County and part of Montgomery County, MD.
Healthcare workers pay a $3 flat-rate fare for rides between 9:00 p.m. and 1:00, a.m., a timeframe traditionally with limited public transit options that have been reduced further during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We fully support Mayor Bowser’s stay home orders which provide for safety guidelines to enable critical transportation for those dedicated individuals doing essential work,” said DFHV Director David Do. “We are excited about the expansion of this transportation option with Via to serve those who are providing essential medical services and care to District residents.”
“Faced with the current crisis, cities and public transit authorities are actively seeking flexible mobility solutions to help critical employees get to work safely,” said Via CEO and co-founder Daniel Ramot. “Our partnership with DFHV to repurpose the D.C. Neighborhood Connect service demonstrates how technology-enabled solutions can swiftly step in to utilize existing infrastructure to provide safe, reliable, and efficient mobility services for essential workers, while complementing existing public transit systems.”
Healthcare workers enter a ride code provided by their hospital using the D.C. Neighborhood Connect app (iOS and Android) from their smartphone. They can hail one of 11 high-capacity vehicles. Via’s advanced algorithms will enable multiple riders to seamlessly share a vehicle, with a maximum of three healthcare workers per vehicle to allow for proper social distancing. Via’s powerful technology directs passengers to a nearby corner for pickup, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, fixed routes or schedules.
Via is partnering with dozens of municipalities, public transit agencies, healthcare organizations and nonprofits around the world in places like Berlin, Abu Dhabi, the UK, Malta, New Zealand, and Columbus, Ohio to help utilize existing transit infrastructure during this time of emergency. Via’s services include consulting to help quickly optimize transit networks to address immediate needs, and technology and operational expertise to help get essential workers where they need to go and to bring goods, pharmaceuticals, and services to people – where they are.
For updates on the District’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), visit coronavirus.dc.gov.
The mission of the Department of For-Hire Vehicles is to protect the public interest by regulating the for-hire ride industry to allow the residents and visitors of the District of Columbia to have safe, affordable, and accessible transportation options. DFHV provides licensing, adjudication, enforcement, and Lost and Found services for operators and riders in the District of Columbia.
Via is re-engineering public transit, from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. Via’s mobile app connects multiple passengers who are headed the same way, allowing riders to seamlessly share a premium vehicle. First launched in New York City in September 2013, the Via platform operates in the United States and in Europe through its joint venture with Mercedes-Benz Vans, ViaVan. Via’s technology is also deployed worldwide through dozens of partner projects with public transportation agencies, private transit operators, taxi fleets, private companies, universities and healthcare organizations, seamlessly integrating with public transit infrastructure to power cutting-edge on-demand mobility and to utilize the existing transit infrastructure during times of emergency for the flexible movement of personnel and goods. For more information, visit www.platform.ridewithvia.com
With 16 taxi companies, Taxi Transportation Service (Transco) is one of the largest operators in the for-hire ride industry in the Washington metropolitan area and has served the District since 1951. Visit dctaxionline.com