SAN ANTONIO – Soon, people in more parts of San Antonio will be able to take advantage of VIA’s mobility-on-demand service, VIA Link.
VIA is gathering public input on the expansion and other service changes during a couple of virtual public meetings in the coming days.
VIA Link has operated in parts of the Northeast Side since May 2019. It works similarly to Uber or Lyft in that you can use an app to request a ride anywhere in the service area, and a vehicle will come to pick you up. One key difference is a rider can also call to request a ride.
“We’ve seen a great deal of success from that pilot program that we’re looking to expand that Uber-like service to other parts of the city where a traditional bus service may not make as much sense,” said Jon Gary Herrera, senior vice president for public engagement for VIA.
The VIA Link Northeast Zone had reached close to 100,000 trips prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has since begun to rebound after pandemic-related declines, Herrera said.
The agency wants to add an area bounded by Wurzbach Parkway, Thousand Oaks Drive and Schertz Road to the service area of VIA Link’s Northeast Zone.
Later this month, the service will add Sandy Oaks on the Southeast Side. It would be an express service, which would take riders within the zone to Brooks Transit Center in order to connect to regular transit service.
Next month, VIA Link will come to the Northwest Side including the area around UTSA and Northwest Vista College. Similar to the northeast zone, it will offer riders to people anywhere within the service area.
VIA officials feel mobility on demand is a game-changer, particularly for areas not well-served by traditional buses and fixed routes.
“The technology can help us reach folks that are in hard-to-reach places typically, but also for us as an agency, we’re only just deploying assets when they’re needed,” Herrera said. “So we’re not running a 40-foot bus that doesn’t have any passengers on it, we are running vehicles that are heading to pick up passengers.”
VIA Link operates from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., and one ride costs the same as a regular one-way VIA fair, $1.30.
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