“Despite COVID-19, we have exceeded every goal,” said Mayor Steven Fulop, as he released the first-quarter numbers for Jersey City’s subsidized ride-sharing service with Via, which launched on February 25.
The $1.8 million partnership between the city and the New York City- based company provides an on-demand point-to-point micro-transit system for about $2 a ride.
Between its launch and May 22 the service completed 35,526 rides despite the public health emergency which began in March and the state’s stay-at-home order, which was not lifted until June.
The service uses purple vans on unfixed routes throughout the city and was purpose-built to complement and extend Jersey City’s existing public transit infrastructure while filling the gaps in areas that need it, particularly in the northern and southern areas of the city, which suffer from little access to public transit.
“This program is growing and will become a solution for residents looking for convenience and more efficient rides with multiple riders in a clean vehicle vs. traditional ride share,” Fulop said. “Ultimately, this is improving the quality of life for residents.”
According to the first-quarter data released by the city, there was a peak average of 3,649 rides over a five-day period.
The average wait for a ride is 12.9 minutes and on average each Via van completes almost four rides per hour averaging about 2.5 people per ride.
4,453 people have used the service so far with the majority of pickup requests from Ward F with 16,812 requests followed by Ward E with 11,121 requests; Ward B with 11,088 requests; Ward A with 11,011 requests; Ward C with 9,060 requests; and Ward D with 6,221 requests.
As for Drop-off requests, Ward F had the most drop-off requests with 15,976 followed by Ward E with 13,047 requests; Ward C with 10,310 requests; Ward A with 10,212 requests; Ward B with 9,527 requests; and Ward D with 6,147 requests.
Top destinations were the Journal Square Transportation Center, the Metro Plaza Shopping Center at Fourth Street and Metro Plaza Drive, the Grove Street Transit Hub, and the Newport Mall.
How to ride
Passengers can use the Via mobile app, or if they don’t have smartphones, call (201) 514-6228 to select a pickup and drop-off location within the service zone and confirm their rides.
Once a ride is booked, Via’s technology matches multiple passengers headed in the same direction into one of the purple vans and directs passengers to a nearby corner, or “virtual bus stop.”
The app will display the driver’s name, vehicle model, and license plate number to help riders locate their rides.
Via’s technology routes vehicles in real-time, minimizing detours through the use of virtual bus stops to reduce congestion and emissions while providing a highly-efficient rider experience, according to the city.
Passengers will book a ride to or from the Central Zone, including Downtown and Journal Square at a flat rate of $2.
Riders can book a ride anywhere within the outer service zone starting at $2 plus $0.50 per mile.
The service operates Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Riders can also request a wheelchair accessible vehicle in-app or by calling. They can also request vehicles with a car seat.