January 4, 2022 (Arlington, TX) — Today, the City of Arlington and Via, the global leader in TransitTech, announced the launch of a new on-demand transportation service to provide rides home for discharged hospital patients who otherwise would lack the resources to travel home independently. The program will serve patients of a major North Texas hospital and is an extension of the City of Arlington’s Via Rideshare service, which has provided affordable on-demand rides as part of the city’s public transit network since 2017.
This service marks a first-of-its-kind initiative in the U.S. between a publicly funded microtransit service and a major hospital, and provides a model for how public transit and healthcare organizations can collaborate to address health inequities and reduce barriers to accessing care. The service is a stride forward in the City of Arlington and Via’s shared vision to enable local healthcare providers to leverage the city’s public on-demand microtransit service.
The on-demand ride service comes after limited transportation was identified as a barrier to healthcare access in the hospital’s 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment, and will expand Arlington residents’ access to convenient, equitable non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT). The service is powered by Via’s technology, which allows trained hospital staff to book on-demand rides home on behalf of discharged patients. Rides are served by the same drivers and vehicles that operate the Via Rideshare service, enabling City of Arlington resources to be deployed efficiently for both microtransit and NEMT, and improve both general mobility and community health.
The service is designed to support patients without reliable transportation options — such as those who do not have someone to pick them up or who cannot afford a ride home. Lack of reliable transportation options can result in delayed discharges for patients, which can have acute implications on both patients and the hospital system. For patients, staying longer than necessary can result in infections and depression. For hospital systems, delayed patient discharges can result in increased costs and treatment impediments due to the lack of free hospital beds, according to recent studies.
“Via believes that every patient should have access to a safe, reliable, convenient ride home from the hospital,” said Eddie Fishman, Director of Via for Health. “We’re excited to collaborate with the City of Arlington and our partner hospital to bring simplicity and ease to the last leg of the patient experience, which will improve health and transportation equity in the Arlington community.”
- Special accommodations: Patients who are discharged from the hospital will receive a door-to-door trip. Wheelchair-accessible vehicles will be available to patients who need them.
- Caretakers: A patient’s family member or personal care attendant can join the patient on their ride home.
- COVID-19 safety: To prioritize the health and safety of riders and drivers, the service will have limited vehicle capacity, partitions and PPE in vehicles, regular cleanings, and a mandatory mask policy.
“Our innovative rideshare service is already helping thousands of residents each week who need affordable, reliable transportation for work, school and day-to-day activities”, said Alicia Winkelblech, Senior Officer for Strategic Initiatives at the City of Arlington. “This collaboration addresses another pressing need in our community — improving access to healthcare — by removing the lack of transportation as a potential barrier to seeking medical treatment.”
The service will allow discharged patients to travel to their homes anywhere in Arlington and will be available from 6 a.m. - 9 p.m. from Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. on Saturdays.
About the City of Arlington
Arlington, the 49th largest city in America, is a global community and has been recognized as the 8th most diverse city in the country. As a premiere entertainment destination, Arlington attracts nearly 14 million visitors each year and is home to Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor, Texas Live! and three professional sports franchises: the Dallas Cowboys, the Texas Rangers and the WNBA’s Dallas Wings. The City, positioned at the center of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, is also proud to be the home of The University of Texas at Arlington, General Motors, D.R. Horton and a host of global, domestic and family-owned businesses. Arlington is a leader in transportation innovation, as one of the first cities in the country to offer on-demand rideshare and autonomous vehicle transportation services to residents and visitors. Quality of life in The American Dream City is second to none, with a low cost of living, affordable housing, rich educational and cultural opportunities, nationally recognized recreation facilities and 4,600 acres of parkland.
Via builds innovative software to enable our customers—cities, transit agencies, transport operators, school districts, universities, and corporations—to transform their legacy transportation systems into advanced digital networks. As pioneers of the TransitTech category, Via’s mission is to expand access to efficient, affordable, and sustainable transportation. Via’s software enables organizations to digitize their existing transportation networks and launch new and innovative services, simultaneously lowering operating costs and increasing quality of service. Our software is used in over 500 communities in more than 35 countries around the world.