New Jersey city touts success of on-demand bus service for underserved

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey (WABC) -- Jersey City on Tuesday touted the success of its new on-demand bus service for underserved residents that launched in February.

The city partnered with the rideshare company Via to provide 15 vehicles that service neighborhoods where there are no bus routes.

People hail a ride by using the app, with Via offering an initial special month-long price of $1 per ride.

Mayor Steven Fulop and Via CEO and founder Daniel Ramot detailed what they called the unprecedented success surrounding the recent launch, saying the on-demand bus service has already provided more than 5,000 rides with top routes and rider feedback indicating that residents and visitors are using the service to fill the gaps in the existing public transit infrastructure for both commuting and leisure purposes.

"We sought after an innovative solution to help fill our transit gaps and to further our overall vision of creating greater mobility, and therefore greater opportunities, for all residents," Fulop said. "Via has proven to be the right solution, with record-breaking user numbers in just the first two weeks of operation. The results show that this is a more affordable option and often provides residents with more direct routes and closer drop-off points compared to the less reliable NJ Transit bus system."

Ramot said Via has experienced steady daily growth and high demand since launching in Jersey City, with an increasing number of both new and repeat riders. He said ridership is strong during commuter hours, with more than 30% of trips to or from core transit hubs.

He said the service has a high volume of rides to major commercial destinations throughout the day, and average wait times are less than 12 to 15 minutes.

"We are proud to partner with Mayor Fulop and Jersey City to meaningfully extend Jersey City's public transit infrastructure," he said. "In deploying Via's on-demand transit solution, Jersey City is providing residents an affordable, efficient, and convenient transportation option that connects communities while reducing congestion and emissions. We are thrilled to see the service has been well received and is making great progress towards achieving its goals in its first days of operation."

Using the Via mobile app or a dedicated phone line for riders without access to a smartphone, residents, visitors, and commuters can book a shared ride. Via matches multiple passengers headed in the same direction into one of the 15 high-capacity vehicles and directs passengers to a nearby corner dubbed a "virtual bus stop" for pickup.

Rides to or from the downtown area now cost $2, and rides within the outer service zone start at $2 plus $0.50 per mile. The service operates Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and riders can request a wheelchair accessible vehicle.

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