March 4, 2021 (JERSEY CITY) - Mayor Steven M. Fulop and Via, the leader in TransitTech, announce expansion to weekend service of NJ’s first publicly subsidized on-demand transit system. This week marks the one-year anniversary of the system’s launch with the system exceeding every goal of connecting transit deserts and providing a low cost alternative option for residents.
Since the February 2020 launch, Via has provided over 216,000 rides, most of which originated from the West and South areas of Jersey City, with top destinations being key transportation hubs and shopping/business districts. Despite the pandemic, the service is exceeding every goal and has been more resilient than traditional public transit in Jersey City, proving to be a critical transportation offering, especially for the underserved communities who need it most.
“Via is meeting and exceeding our goals of expanding connectivity with affordable transportation, providing residents with more opportunities, and improving quality of life, especially for our low-income and diverse populations in areas where reliable mass transit is otherwise scarce,” said Mayor Fulop. “Despite the pandemic, the on-demand service continues to break ridership records, we’ve added to our Via fleet to meet the growing demand, and the new Saturday service is being added per the community’s request to fill the voids left by other limited transit services.”
Via Jersey City serves as a model for cities across the U.S. to meet the changing transit needs with access to affordable, efficient, and sustainable public transit offerings. The year of outstanding successes is being expanded upon with the addition of Saturday services (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and the introduction of a new advertising platform to further enhance connectivity to commercial, medical, and professional opportunities across the City. The advertising displays on Via vehicles will also help to generate revenue to support the citywide program.
“Via Jersey City reimagines public transit in a way that prioritizes equity, resilience, and the environment,” said Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via. “We are proud to work with Mayor Fulop to continue to introduce innovative digital solutions that drive growth and access to public transit in Jersey City.”
Successful Example of On-Demand Public Transit
The service was launched at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 to complement and extend Jersey City’s existing public transit infrastructure, specifically to fill the existing gaps in public transportation access in the North and South regions of the City. The Journal Square Transit Hub, Newport Mall, Hudson Mall, and Metro Plaza (Shoprite downtown) continue to be the most popular destinations.
Via Jersey City has provided more than 1,600 rides per day, with continued growth week over week. In fact, 70% of these rides are shared between multiple riders, and 62% of riders use the service most often to commute to work.
Equity, Resilience, Sustainability
A diverse population across age, gender, and socioeconomic background have increasingly come to rely on Via Jersey City, which was defined as an original goal of the service. More than 50% of Via Jersey City riders make less than $50K, and the highest percentage identify as Black or African American.
The service has been incredibly resilient, with a 78% increase in ridership since the start of the pandemic. Today, ridership is more than double what it was before the pandemic. Technology-enabled transit enables the service to be flexible, and the City relies on the data to make informed decisions about service changes. Because of this, Jersey City was able to adjust for rider demand at periods of peak impact during the COVID-19 pandemic, a critical factor as cities grapple with changing ridership patterns.
Rider data shows that Via Jersey City continues to provide an affordable and direct alternative to single-occupancy vehicles as 41% of riders surveyed said they would have used private vehicles if the service was not available. With Via, we avoided 59,544 miles of driving, 53,034 pounds of CO2, and 2,707 gallons of gasoline this quarter. The service also includes electric vehicles.
“Reliable and affordable transportation options are crucial for residents of the City’s south side, and we worked really hard to get to this point,” said Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson. “The numbers show that by bringing in Via, we’re drastically changing the landscape for our residents who now have access to various opportunities that traditional mass transit left vacant.”
As a result of high demand and 38% of surveyed riders requesting additional days of service, Via Jersey City will expand the service to cover Saturdays, beginning March 6, 2021. Riders can book a ride six days a week through the Via mobile app or by calling (201) 514-6228. New service hours will be Monday-Friday, 6 a.m. - 10 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m. - 10 p.m. Rides cost $2 to-or-from the Central Zone, and $2 plus $0.50 per mile for rides within the Outer Zone. The service includes wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
Via’s advanced algorithms will enable multiple riders to seamlessly and safely share the same vehicle, directing passengers to a nearby virtual bus stop within a short walking distance for pick up and drop off, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours. Although trips may be shared, the maximum number of riders per vehicle has been limited in compliance with social distancing guidelines.
In addition, the City will launch an innovative new advertising platform in celebration of the on-demand shared transit service.
In the pilot phase, six vehicles will feature in-vehicle advertising tablets and screen toppers that will generate a new source of revenue for the service and allow for city-specific announcements.
Via is already working with more than 200 partners in over 20 countries to help connect more people to transit, including Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), Miami-Dade County Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW), and Sydney’s Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW).
Founded in 2012, Via pioneered the TransitTech category by using new technologies to power public mobility systems, optimizing networks of dynamic shuttles, buses, wheelchair accessible vehicles, school buses, and autonomous vehicles around the globe. Building the world’s most efficient, equitable, and sustainable transportation network for all riders — including those with limited mobility, those without smartphones, and unbanked populations — Via works with its partners to lower the cost of public transit and provide accessible options that rival the convenience of a personal car at a much reduced environmental impact. At the intersection of transportation and technology, Via is a visionary market leader that combines software innovation with sophisticated service design and operational expertise to fundamentally improve the way the world moves, with 200 global partners on six continents, and counting.