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Meet the On-Demand Transit Riders of St. Louis, Mo.

  •   2 min read

On-demand transit gives St. Louis residents an affordable, convenient way to reach jobs and run essential errands within their city.

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We spoke to some riders of our US-based services to get a sense of what on-demand transportation means to them. From small-town North Carolina to big-city Texas, our Rider Profiles present microtransit in the eyes of those who depend on it most. Click here to explore more.

The Gateway Arch — St. Louis, Missouri’s most famous monument — was built to commemorate the city’s central role in the 19th-century western expansion of the U.S. Now, in the 21st century, St. Louis channeled that pioneering spirit to reimagine its public transportation and expand service through on-demand transit.

“Without you guys being out here, we wouldn’t have access to get anywhere.”

In June 2020, St. Louis’s transit agency, Metro Transit, partnered with Via to launch Via Metro STL: A service available to overnight shift workers in north St. Louis County, who have limited fixed route options for their commutes, as well as residents in the southwest part of the county, who previously lacked first-and-last mile connections to Metro’s broader network. 

Via Metro STL allows transit riders to hail on-demand rides with a mobile app and travel anywhere within the service area during operating hours. Via’s advanced algorithms connect multiple riders traveling in the same direction, while its real-time routing technology gets them to their destination quickly and efficiently.

For many residents, Via Metro STL has become a lifeline as COVID-19 budget cuts have affected bus schedules and service. One rider describes their experience: “Without you guys being out here, we wouldn’t have access to get anywhere.”

Even in areas with fixed route options, on-demand has been a welcome supplement to Metro’s network. “Via Metro STL is definitely a game changer … On the buses, it takes so long to get to your destination, because they have to make multiple stops, but the Via service is almost like a cab service,” one rider said. “You can just get where you need to go. It’s so convenient.” 

Many riders also point to the drivers as a key part of the service’s value. One rider said about their favorite driver, “He has a knack for making people feel comfortable. I always enjoy riding with him.” Another rider describes a driver they regularly run into as “courteous and trustworthy — and good to talk to.”

Seeing the same drivers frequently and knowing they’re vetted by the service provides a higher level of reassurance, others say. “It’s a safe system — I am a 57-year-old single woman and live by myself, but I feel safe [while riding], and the drivers make me feel that way,” one rider commented.

With Via Metro STL, residents of St. Louis can more easily access jobs, visit local businesses, and explore their own backyard. As one loyal user said: “It’s a very valuable source of transportation that is clean and safe and very affordable.”

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