City Council to discuss Via rideshare project

The project would incorporate a fleet of 10 Mercedes Metris vans which can be accessed through a smartphone app

  • Passangers would be able to use the Via app on their smartphone to arrange a pickup to a desginated destination. (Photo: City of Arlington)
    Passangers would be able to use the Via app on their smartphone to arrange a pickup to a desginated destination. (Photo: City of Arlington)
  • The average yearly rideshare cost using Via would be approximately $3,120. (Photo: City of Arlington)
    The average yearly rideshare cost using Via would be approximately $3,120. (Photo: City of Arlington)
  • The Mercedes Metris minivan, which would be used for the Via rideshare program. (Photo: City of Arlington)
    The Mercedes Metris minivan, which would be used for the Via rideshare program. (Photo: City of Arlington)
Ken Costlow

A proposal for a possible replacement for the City of Arlington’s outgoing MAX bus service will be among the discussion items presented to the City Council at Tuesday afternoon’s work session.

The system is called Via, a Demand Response Rideshare Pilot Project that incorporates a fleet of 10 Mercedes Metris vans which seat six people each and can be accessed through either a smartphone app or by phone.

According to a staff report, Via will address mobility requirements using a dynamic micro-transportation structure with no fixed schedules or routes and an infinite number of on-demand stops.

The City Council is considering a rideshare program because it aligns with many of the Council’s priorities, such as putting technology to work, enhancing regional mobility, fighting for great neighborhoods and investing in Arlington’s economy.

It also aligns with the Transportation Advisory Council’s recommendations for a smooth transition from the MAX bus system, as well as providing a personalized transportation experience. It also offers safety elements for customers.

In addition, Via is cost-effective compared to other transportation offers. It would also make Arlington the first owned and operated public partnership.

The map area for each phase of the Via rideshare proposal. The startup phase is in brown, Phase I is in beige and Phase II is in gray.

 

The proposal would be a one-year pilot project with an option for up to four one-year renewals, pending Council approval.

The project would cost $922,500, with $322,500 (35 percent) coming from the City, and the remaining $600,000 (65 percent) coming from a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) grant.

Service revenue would be used to grow the project, which will be a turnkey operation and a phased approach. Data sharing would be used to apprise future transportation planning decisions.

The service would run from Monday to Saturday, with the initial startup hours running from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., with varied Saturday hours. Phase I hours would be 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The cost per one-way trip would be a $3 flat fee at service launch. Service area, hours of operation and trip rates may change over time based on demand and data gathered.

Passengers would begin the process by booking a trip on the smartphone app. They would then be picked up at an agreed upon nearby corner within minutes. The driver would subsequently pick up other passengers headed in the same direction.

It is estimated that a person using Via for 10 round-trips per week would spend $3,120 per year, or approximately 37 percent of the annual cost of car ownership, according to American Automobile Association (AAA) figures.

Success of the project would be measured by the average estimated time of arrival (ETA) of no more than 12 minutes, and an actual pick-up time of no more than three minutes earlier or later on average than the ETA.

Customer service data, rider surveys and ridership growth would also be considered.  

For the startup phase beginning Dec. 11, the service area would run from Interstate 30 south to East Mitchell Street and west to Cooper Street.

Phase I, beginning in January 2018, would run from Lamar Boulevard south to Timberview Drive and west to Fielder Road. Phase II, which would be scheduled to begin between April and June 2018, would run from Mitchell to Interstate 20.

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