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Launching an on-demand transit network in six weeks

It shouldn’t take years to upgrade your public transportation network. Here’s how to launch a microtransit service in a matter of weeks.

Via Transportation •

Getting a new service up and running quickly — you could call that our bread and butter. During the past decade we’ve done it hundreds of times, under all sorts of challenging conditions (even a global pandemic didn’t slow us down). No matter the unique service modifications or other specific requirements, our expert launch team has done it all and can adapt to meet a partner’s desired target date — faster and more easily than you’d think.

Where do we start?

After a project kickoff between Via and the new partner, the two teams immediately begin workshopping the design of the new service. We start by listening to the partner’s goals to understand desired service characteristics, ridership profiles, and things like zone geographies, service hours, vehicle modes, and more. It’s also the point when we align on a marketing plan and begin any custom branding work, if required.

Design and development.

During weeks two, three, and four, it’s all hands on deck to prepare the on-the-ground operations and set up the full service-specific technology suite. Our team works to identify which type of vehicles will be included in the fleet, while securing and preparing them for live service. Our product team begins configuring and localizing the tech stack: the new branded Rider app, Driver app, and supporting backend tools and dashboards. By the end of this phase, both the vehicles and the software are ready, tested, and ready to get rolling.

Testing, tweaking, and training.

By the fifth week of launching a new service, training and testing (both in-house and in the field) with real riders and drivers is in full swing. The Via team reviews routing, rider messaging, and other important elements to ensure the experience aligns with the partner’s original project goals. The Via team will conduct detailed training workshops and dry runs with drivers and staff members to ensure they’re comfortable and confident using the new technology.

Introducing your new network.

And just like that, it’s launch day! Beyond in-person meetings, Via will provide continuous launch support remotely, using regularly-scheduled calls, video conferences, and webinars. And don’t worry — we’ve helped our partners launch more than 120 new transit services in the year of 2020 alone — under COVID-19 restrictions, all remotely.  But that’s just the beginning: Post-launch we’ll provide ongoing support and continue optimizing the service in response to user feedback and real-time data. Via’s marketing team also works to promote the service and grow ridership as needed. As most transportation professionals know, the work is never really over, and we see this as the start of a successful partnership for years to come. Of course, not every launch happens in a matter of six weeks, with cities generally operating on the timeline that works best for their internal teams. Building new transportation can be faster than you think.