January 30, 2020 (Norfolk, VA) – The Transportation District Commission of Hampton Roads (HRT) awarded Via, the leading provider of public mobility solutions, with a multi-year paratransit contract that aims to increase efficiency of paratransit services and improve the experience for HRT's paratransit customers by introducing Via’s proven technology, operations, and customer support to the service.
“This new contract will offer enhanced technology and better customer service,” said William Harrell, president and CEO of HRT. “These improvements are consistent with HRT’s mission to connecting Hampton Roads with transportation solutions.”
HRT provides paratransit services under direction of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The service allows qualifying participants access to the public transit if their disability prevents them from boarding buses, trains or ferries without assistance and if they live within three quarters of a mile of a local bus route.
In addition to a new contract, the board also approved the purchase of 45 new 15-passenger paratransit vans - like the type in use today - and 20 high-roof vans that are somewhat smaller and more fuel efficient than the current variety.
The new contract will bring significant improvements to how customers interact with paratransit services.
Starting February 1, eligible riders will be able to call (757) 455-8010 or use a new web portal -- hrt.ridewithvia.com -- to book a ride. Riders will provide pickup and drop off location to a representative by phone or in the booking window on the web portal, and Via will match them with a ride.
“Cities throughout the world are increasingly leveraging new technology and dynamic transportation solutions to improve mobility and customer experience for residents who need it most,” said Daniel Ramot, Via’s co-founder and CEO. "We are proud to be working with a truly innovative partner such as HRT. We share HRT’s passion for delivering best-in-class paratransit service and we are excited to deploy Via’s technology, which is transforming the paratransit industry globally, in Hampton Roads."
Certified riders will have the ability to select a pickup window based on desired “depart-by” or “arrive-by” times, and Via’s support team will be available 7 days a week to provide individual login information, scheduling support and general assistance. Rides can be booked over the phone between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and riders can receive live support for confirmed rides any time of the day, with the exception of 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Via’s advanced algorithms will enable multiple riders to seamlessly share the vehicle. Passengers will be directed to a nearby “virtual bus stop” for pick up and drop off or have the option of door-to-door service for individuals who need additional assistance.
The sedan service will be sub-contracted to other transportation providers. Customers could then be picked up by a qualified driver, but they will have to comply with HRT regulations reflecting drug and alcohol testing, security background checks, and a safe driving record.
Paratransit services are delivered under separate primary service categories: one for paratransit lift-equipped vans, another for paratransit sedans, and the third for a call center. The type of vehicle used depends on the individual customer needs and vehicle availability for the service requested. The call center coordinates customer requests with the delivery of service.
Each one-way trip still costs $3.50, and riders will still be able to pay using cash or tickets, but tickets will no longer be available for purchase in the vehicles. In the coming months, an additional feature will be introduced that enables riders to prepay their fares with a credit card.
In the coming months, paratransit riders and caregivers will be able book trips through a mobile app on their smartphone. Via’s technology will provide unparalleled visibility for customers through real-time vehicle tracking to help riders better prepare for the arrival of their ride.
Via is reimagining how the world moves, from regulated systems with rigid routes and schedules to fully dynamic networks. 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 2013, Via’s technology is now deployed globally, including in Europe as ViaVan. Today Via and ViaVan partner with nearly 100 public transportation agencies, private transit operators, taxi fleets, private companies, school districts, and universities, seamlessly integrating with transportation infrastructure to power cutting-edge mobility. For more information, visit ridewithvia.com.