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On-demand microtransit helps this Virginia resident get back on her feet

METGo! gives car-less students and elderly residents the freedom to get around Wise and Norton, VA efficiently and reliably.

Via Transportation •

The month was November 2021. Victoria, a resident of Wise, Virginia — a rural enclave in the westernmost part of the state — was staying at a local homeless shelter after being released from Abingdon Jail, when someone handed her a pamphlet for METGo!

The new local on-demand microtransit service, which Mountain Empire Transit (MET) launched in partnership with TransitTech provider Via, was designed to provide affordable and efficient public transportation service for high-need and underserved communities. METGo! was a lifeline for Victoria and she began using the service regularly, sometimes up to 5 times a week, to go to job interviews. 

“I wouldn’t have my job or my own apartment if it wasn’t for METGo!” she said in a recent interview. “I wouldn’t have my job or my own apartment if it wasn’t for METGo!” Victoria knows she can always rely on METGo! and exclusively uses it whenever she needs to get anywhere — the grocery store, work, seeing friends, or important appointments. “I’m unable to get very far walking,” she said, but thanks to the on-demand service she can now get across town and “go out and do more things, things [she] couldn’t do before.” 

The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and Mountain Empire Older Citizens (MEOC) partnered with Via in 2021 to improve transit efficiency and experience in rural areas. As part of Virginia’s first microtransit service, METGo! caters to both car-less college students at the nearby university and the elderly by providing a free, easy, and flexible way to get around. Rides can be booked through a smartphone or by calling in, and riders are dropped off at their destination within minutes — a big change from the previous system, which required them to call at least 24 hours in advance.

Over the last year, METGo! has become not only a crucial part of the community, but also a community in itself. Victoria has gotten to know the drivers, and they have gotten to know her, going out of their way to help her get on and off the bus and always making sure she is doing well. It was because of this that Victoria encouraged Family Crisis Support Services to donate masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and sanitizer wipes, among other things, so drivers could keep themselves safe. She felt “it was only proper to give back to the community that has given [her] more than anyone could dream of.”