Via vans now available six days a week

Jersey City expands subsidized rideshare following year of success

Via car service will now be available on weekends in Jersey City according to Mayor Steven Fulop, who announced the expansion of New Jersey’s first publicly subsidized on-demand transit system.

Since the February 2020 launch, Via has provided more than 216,000 rides, most of which originated from the West and South areas of Jersey City, with top destinations being key transportation hubs and shopping and business districts.

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“Via is meeting and exceeding our goals of expanding connectivity with affordable transportation, providing residents with more opportunities, and improving quality of life, especially for our low-income and diverse populations in areas where reliable mass transit is otherwise scarce,” Fulop said.

“Despite the pandemic, the on-demand service continues to break ridership records, we’ve added to our Via fleet to meet the growing demand, and the new Saturday service is being added per the community’s request to fill the voids left by other limited transit services.”

According to the city, Via vans will now be available on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The city will also introduce a new advertising platform to further boost connectivity to commercial, medical, and professional destinations across the city.

The advertising displays on Via vehicles will also help to generate revenue to support the citywide program.

“Via Jersey City reimagines public transit in a way that prioritizes equity, resilience, and the environment,” said Daniel Ramot, cofounder and CEO of Via. “We are proud to work with Mayor Fulop to continue to introduce innovative digital solutions that drive growth and access to public transit in Jersey City.”

Increasing connectivity

The service launched at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 to complement and extend Jersey City’s existing public transit infrastructure, specifically to fill the gaps in public transportation access in the North and South parts of the city.

The Journal Square Transit Hub, Newport Mall, Hudson Mall, and Metro Plaza (ShopRite downtown) continue to be the most popular destinations.

According to the city’s data, Via Jersey City has provided more than 1,600 rides per day, with continued growth week to week.

Seventy percent of these rides are shared among multiple riders, and 62 percent of riders use the service most often to commute to work.

A diverse population relies on Via Jersey City, an original goal of the service.

More than 50 percent of Via Jersey City riders make less than $50K, and the highest percentage identify as Black or African American, according to city data.

The pandemic has not negatively affected the service. Via saw a 78 percent increase in ridership since the pandemic’s onset, and ridership has more than doubled.

Rider data shows that Via Jersey City continues to provide an affordable and direct alternative to single-occupancy vehicles, as 41 percent of riders surveyed said they would have used private vehicles if the service was not available.

With Via, the city estimates it avoided 59,544 miles of driving, 53,034 pounds of CO2, and 2,707 gallons of gasoline this past quarter.

The service includes electric vehicles.

“Reliable and affordable transportation options are crucial for residents of the city’s south side, and we worked really hard to get to this point,” said Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson. “The numbers show that by bringing in Via, we’re drastically changing the landscape for our residents who now have access to various opportunities that traditional mass transit left vacant.”

New hours of operation 

As a result of high demand and 38 percent of surveyed riders requesting additional days of service, Via Jersey City has expanded the service to Saturdays.

Riders can book a ride six days a week through the Via mobile app or by calling (201) 514-6228.

New service hours will be Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Rides cost $2 to-or-from the Central Zone, and $2 plus $0.50 per mile for rides within the Outer Zone.

Via’s algorithms will enable multiple riders to share the same vehicle, directing passengers to a nearby virtual bus stop within a short walking distance for pickup and drop off, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours.

Although trips may be shared, the maximum number of riders per vehicle has been limited in compliance with social distancing guidelines.

The city will also launch a new advertising platform in celebration of the on-demand shared transit service.

In the pilot phase, six vehicles will feature in-vehicle advertising tablets and screen toppers that the city says will generate a new source of revenue for the service and allow for city-specific announcements.

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.

 

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