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Word on the Street: Coronavirus jolts the world. Transportation joins the fight.

As coronavirus spreads around the globe, communities large and small are moving quickly to remake their transit networks into safe and reliable transportation options for essential workers and delivering goods.

Via Transportation •

If your inbox is anything like ours, you've got a pile of COVID-19 messages. We hope this one is one you'll read, learn from, and find some optimism in. As coronavirus spreads around the globe, communities large and small are moving quickly to remake their transit networks into safe and reliable transportation options for essential workers and delivering goods.

Read on to learn how these four leaders took bold steps to respond to COVID-19:

Rethinking transportation resources during emergencies.

Cities are experiencing unprecedented challenges right now, and the need for immediate, creative solutions has never been greater. With small businesses shuttered, restaurants closed, and public transportation facing record low ridership, the variety of challenges that government and business leaders need to address is alarming.

And yet, for the transportation sector, there’s one critical consideration that rises above all else: how to get essential staff and emergency supplies to where they’re most needed — now. Food delivery to vulnerable populations and medical necessities for support staff are also of critical importance.

In our latest webinar, we break down what cities and transportation agencies are doing to respond to the pandemic, and because this is a global health crisis, we invited team members from all around the world to help us spread the word. Come check out what we’ve learned.

Responding to COVID-19: How to optimize transportation resources during emergencies

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What a $2 trillion stimulus bill means for transportation.

The U.S. government just passed a $2 trillion emergency relief bill called the CARES Act, which included $25 billion for transit to help prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, now what? Cities and transit agencies have a lot of questions about whether they qualify for those funds, how the money is allocated, and what the funding can actually be used for. Here’s a breakdown of the most frequently asked questions about the bill and the implications for public transportation in America.

FAQ: Funding for Transit in the CARES Stimulus Package

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What we're watching.

Coronavirus silver linings.

INFRASTRUCTURE BILL MOMENTUM BUILDING: As the U.S. economy lurches towards a recession, leaders from both sides of the aisle are showing renewed interest in new public works spending.

Our Take: While the timing of legislation remains unclear, a bill that invests in both physical and digital infrastructure is long overdue and would  boost the economy. The Hill has the scoop.

COVID-19 EXPOSES MOBILITY GAPS: Among the many painful lessons we’re learning from the coronavirus pandemic, the insufficient mobility options for vulnerable populations is one of the most heart-wrenching. This article outlines what we’ve always believed: that solutions can be found in data and technology.

Our Take: If COVID-19 taught us anything, it’s how vital our transportation networks are. Read how cities are modernizing transportation in Forbes.

FRENCH CITIES SUPPORTING HOSPITAL WORKERS: Across the country, cities and public transport operators are rallying behind doctors, nurses, and other critical staff on the front lines by offering dedicated, free-of-charge, on-demand transportation.

Our Take: These are  ambitious offerings, both at a region level and in our partner city of Nancy. On-demand services are emerging as a vital part of new public transport offerings.

Follow the money.

$20M FOR NEW IDEAS: The U.S. Department of Transportation announced the winners of the Integrated Mobility Integration grant. Twenty-five projects across 23 states will use the money to improve transportation access and efficiency, especially for older and disabled riders. 

Our Take: Isn’t it fun seeing how cities are innovating transportation? And look — a couple of Via’s partners - Arlington, Texas, and Baldwin County, Alabama - made the cut. View the full list here.

£110M UP FOR GRABS IN THE UK: Last month, the UK's Department for Transport announced £90 million in funding for three new Future Transport Zones. That’s combined with an additional £20m of funding available through the Rural Mobility Fund, which just pushed its deadline back to 4 June.

Our Take: We're encouraged by the government's commitment to innovation and hope the funding can pave the way for some much-needed innovation. Interested in either funds? Let us know. 

STILL TIME TO APPLY FOR $11M: Searching for ways to fund your next big transportation initiative? The deadline to apply for the U.S. Accelerating Innovative Mobility grant was just extended to May 18, meaning there’s still time to snag some of the $11M in federal funding.

Our Take: We’re mindful that your team is strapped for resources during the public health emergency, so please let us know if you’re interested in applying. We’re here to help.

News At Via.

'On demand' approach to Timaru's bus service in the wake of Covid-19

Timaru Herald
Coronavirus helpline volunteers offered free rides by car-sharing company

Times of Malta
Via offers free rides for Berlin healthcare staff

Cities Today
How ride-sharing app Via is pivoting its business model in the age of coronavirus

LA Metro’s mobility-on-demand service now running point-to-point trips within service zones

The Source
UTA’s ‘microtransit’ experiment working well, offers flexibility during COVID-19 outbreak

Salt Lake Tribune

We’re all on this journey together.

Thanks for reading – we know life is intensely busier and more complicated while working from home. But if we’ve learned anything from watching how cities are responding to the pandemic, it’s that we’re all a bunch of smart cookies who can design new ways for life to go on.

If it hasn’t become clear by this point in the newsletter, we genuinely want to help make your life easier by using transportation to help solve some of the pressing needs in your community. We come with technology and operational expertise, as well as a range of new ideas. Our conversations with many of you over the last few weeks have given us some interesting insight that we would be happy to share. Let’s get in touch so we can brainstorm.

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