The rides not taken• 2 min read
For some riders, a Via-powered microtransit service is the only transit option — whether that’s due to location, financial status, disability, or a host of other reasons. In this series, we investigate this group of riders who say they would not have been able to travel without Via. What do they have in common, and how can we better serve them?
We’ve all seen the statistics: inadequate transit hampers socioeconomic mobility, damages health outcomes, impedes educational access, and increases overall social isolation. At Via, we’re passionate about helping communities plan and manage comprehensive transit networks that get more people moving more efficiently.
Microtransit is just a piece of that puzzle — but a powerful one. Using data from rider surveys all over the world, and modeling of transit availability across the cities we serve, our data science team estimates that Via moves tens of thousands of riders — on a weekly basis — who otherwise would not be able to travel. In some services, upwards of 30% of riders report that they would not have been able to make their latest trip without Via. That’s a lot of commutes, doctors’ visits, grocery runs, trips to schools, movie nights, family visits … in short, a lot of living that these riders would have missed.
It’s true that even in these cities, most microtransit riders would, if pressed, have another way to travel — though usually by a mode that is more expensive and less sustainable, like private taxi or rideshare, or less convenient, like asking a friend or family member for a ride. But we’re interested in understanding the experiences of the riders who don’t have the luxury of choice. Where are they trying to go? What do they have in common? How can we better serve riders who are most dependent on microtransit?
In this series, we’ll explore four commonalities among these riders in greater depth: income level, access to a private car, disability status, and education access. To begin, hear how our riders described the necessity of transit in their own words:
“The Skipper creates accesses I wouldn’t otherwise have. It is an amazing service and part of what drew me to the city.” (Salem Skipper rider)
“I get to medical appointments that I wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise.” (Via Metro STL rider)
“I wouldn’t be able to go grocery shopping nearly as often or get as much without the Flex shuttle.” (SMART Flex Detroit rider)