- Ride-hailing company Via announced Monday a partnership with the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) to expand the city's on-demand microtransit service, SmaRT Ride. The microtransit service, which is now said to be the largest in the U.S., launched Jan. 6 in nine zones throughout the city.
- Riders can hail a shared ride using the Via app or by calling a phone number, and be picked up at a virtual bus stop near their location. The service will take riders to existing transit hubs in the city. The fleet is made up of 42 vehicles, six of which are electric with three more electric vehicles to roll out soon.
- SmaRT Ride initially launched in February 2018. Via said this expansion, which is funded by a $12 million grant from the Sacramento Transportation Authority, is "due to its popularity and success."
City leaders across the U.S. have been experimenting for some time with microtransit and ways to connect people to existing public transportation hubs. There have even been suggestions that autonomous vehicles (AVs) could make up a microtransit fleet and get people to transit stations if they live too far away to walk.
For Via, this is another foray into the microtransit space as it looks to be an effective partner for cities. Already, the company has similar efforts in Los Angeles and Grove City, OH, integrating its app-based offerings with the existing transit authority to make it easier to connect people to transit hubs.
Outside the United States, Via is also partnered with the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) in Berlin, Germany, where it says it powers the largest microtransit system in the world. Via is in almost 100 other cities worldwide.
As cities look to get traffic congestion under control and push more people to take public transit, microtransit opportunities are seen as an increasingly viable alternative. A recent report from Via and The Boston Consulting Group's (BCG) think tank, The BCG Henderson Institute, found that microtransit could reduce traffic in cities by between 15% and 30%, based on a study of microtransit use in Arlington, TX; Berlin; Seattle; and West Sacramento, CA.
With a low cost — $2.50 per trip, and $1.25 for discounted fares — leaders are confident this partnership can have a big impact. In a statement, Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via, said the collaboration is "an excellent example of how public transportation and technology can work together to make a city smarter."