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WRTA and Via launch new on-demand public transit system in Westborough

Residents and commuters can now hail a Via across Westborough, improving public transit and enabling easier connections to MBTA Commuter Rail

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September 29, 2020 (Westborough, MA) ​— The Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA) announces today the official launch of its new on-demand public transportation network in partnership with Via, the world’s preeminent provider of public mobility systems. Called ​Via WRTA​, residents and commuters in Westborough can use the Via app (​iOS​ and ​Android​) to hail a shuttle directly from their mobile devices, providing a more comfortable and efficient form of public transit, as well as seamless connections to the MBTA Commuter Rail stations.

Unlike traditional bus networks that rely on routes and schedules, the new WRTA shuttles in Westborough allow passengers to hail a shared ride right when they need it. The on-demand transit network will span approximately 12-square-miles through the heart of the city, servicing important destinations like Westborough High School, the Senior Center, and two MBTA commuter rail stations. By making public transportation more comfortable, convenient, safe, and affordable, city leaders hope to encourage residents to leave their private vehicles at home, reducing traffic congestion and vehicle emissions.

“Our partnership with Via showcases what the next generation of public transit can and should be, allowing us to increase access to local MBTA stations, enhance access and connectivity to jobs, and reduce the reliance on owning a private vehicle,” said Dennis J Lipka, WRTA Administrator. “Most importantly, we’re creating a transit option that’s safer than ever before.”

WRTA is funding the on-demand commuter service using a $460,000 award from MassDOT. The award was part of $3.5 million in grant funding for RTAs across the Commonwealth. “Regional public transit is a vital public resource for thousands of people living across Massachusetts,” said Senator Harriette L. Chandler (D-Worcester). “I am happy that the WRTA, MassDOT and Via have partnered to provide on-demand commuter services in Central MA, and I am proud to have helped secure this funding.”

Using the Via app (​iOS​ and ​Android)​ , riders can hail a shuttle directly from their smartphone by selecting a pick up and drop off location. Passengers can also call +1 (508) 388-6620, and a member of our team can book a ride on your behalf. 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.

All rides will also place an emphasis on safety in response to COVID-19. Masks will be required to ride, capacity is capped at just three passengers per vehicle, and riders are prompted to use hand sanitizer before touching door handles — or to stay home if they’re not feeling well.

“We are proud to work with WRTA to introduce on-demand public transit in Worcester, building a smarter and safer transportation network for its residents,” said Via’s VP of Expansion, Monica Ceragioli. “Via’s technology provides a flexible mobility solution that currently enables more than 150 partners around the globe to offer a new kind of transit system, and the launch of Via WRTA represents an opportunity for innovation-forward cities and transit agencies to follow.”

Via will operate at $2 per ride, and all rides either to or from the MBTA station will cost just $1. Rides are free for the first 30 days of service. Service operates Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The WRTA joins a number of high-profile cities and transportation agencies around the world turning to Via to help develop the next generation of public transportation. Via is now working with more than 150 partners in over 20 countries to help connect more people to transit, including the Los Angeles Metro, Sydney’s Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW), and Berlin’s Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG). To learn more, visit ​www.ridewithvia.com​.

About Via:

Founded in 2012, ​Via​ pioneered the TransitTech category by using new technologies to develop public mobility systems — optimizing networks of buses, shuttles, wheelchair accessible vehicles, school buses, autonomous vehicles, and electric 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 costs of public transit while providing transportation options that rival the convenience of a personal car while reducing the 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 150 global partners on six continents, and counting.

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