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New on-demand transit service wins over Sioux Falls community

City officials and residents alike see the promise of a revamped transit system in one of the nation's fastest-growing cities.

Manyu Jiang •
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Sioux Falls, S.D., one of the nation's fastest-growing cities, is buzzing with excitement around a revamped transit service, SAM On-Demand. Since Via took over operations of Sioux Area Metro (SAM) on January 1, the community has expressed strong support for the innovative, technology-driven approach to public transportation. In just a few months, ridership increased by 11% compared to the previous year, and upcoming service changes will reduce frequencies.


Alex Lavoie, Via’s Chief Operation Officer, recently sat down with a local talk show in Sioux Falls, S.D., discussing the community buy-in to the city’s revamped transit service. “We’re really excited about the partnership with Sioux Falls, and we’re off to a great start in the new year,” said Lavoie. He emphasized that Via is bringing its global experience in building fully-integrated networks of fixed-route, on-demand, and paratransit services to Sioux Falls.

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"You guys [at Via] are new to this area, but you're not new in the industry — you are the groundbreakers who are doing this all over the place," commented John, the host. He noted that Sioux Falls residents were already enjoying the service and looking forward to its expansion. “That’s a great service; that’s going to be extremely welcome. I’m glad you guys are going to expand that,” John added.

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Joe Martin, Via’s partner success manager for Sioux Falls, and Emily Shapiro, interim general manager, were on the ground for service planning.

Mayor Paul TenHaken echoed the community’s enthusiasm, assuring that Via’s technology-driven approach is leading to a highly accessible network. “There’s a lot of trepidation when you change some things in your transit system, move some cheese, and ask yourself, ‘Is this going to work?’ And I’ll tell you, several months into this, this could not be going better,” TenHaken stated.

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“​​Every day that goes by, I feel better about the choice, choosing them [Via] to help us with our transit. They have a great ability to make sure the basics are taken care of while keeping an eye forward on how to improve,” said Jeff Eckhoff, the city’s director of planning and development services, which oversees Sioux Area Metro, as reported by a local news agency.

Besides endorsements from city leaders, there are testimonials from local residents, who enjoy the convenience brought by the upgraded service. Greg Neitzert, a resident and former council member, shared his positive experience. “I rode our on-demand service, through our new bus company [Via]. It worked really well. It picked me up literally right outside my door and took me to the Washington Pavilion. It was a great experience. I think people are going to be really impressed with the changes we’ll see in public transit over the next year,” he commented.

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Initially available on Saturdays, the on-demand service expanded in April, providing more comprehensive coverage throughout the city with weekday services. This month, the Sioux Falls city council approved a new transit enhancement plan, SAM Reimagined, which the Via transit planning team designed. The plan aims to improve bus routes for more direct trips, easier transfers, and shorter wait times; and extend the on-demand service citywide, focusing on areas far from bus stops. The new changes will roll out by mid-September, expanding transit coverage from 45% to 100% of Sioux Falls residents.

Manyu Jiang avatar
Manyu Jiang

Via Resource Editor