In response to what Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop calls unreliable bus service by NJ Transit, the city has announced a partnership with Via — a ride-sharing provider that offered on-demand bus service.
While similar to Uber and Lyft, Via operates like a bus service, shuttling multiple passengers headed in similar directions and picking up and dropping off passengers at corners rather than offering door-to-door rides. The app’s management is targeting 150,000 rides a month and is deploying a fleet of 14 vehicles upon launch.
The system will cost the city $1.8 million a year. The city’s goal is for the service to provide access citywide, especially for those who live in areas considered “transit deserts.”
Unlike assigned bus stops, the pickup locations vary from day-to-day depending on demand.
“This new system creates virtual bus stops, meaning it sets up digitally the most efficient places for people to go to get picked up and dropped off,” said Brian David Platt, business administrator in Jersey City. “We’ll have a cash option, we’ll have a debit-card option. We are trying to be as accessible and available to all of our residents.”
Despite Fulop’s assertion that it is failing residents, NJ Transit calls Jersey City “one of the most transit-rich cities in the country” and claims it has worked closely with the current administration to increase bus service in the face of growing demand and budget challenges.
With the city expected to approve the Via contract Wednesday, there are plans for the fleet to hit the road in January 2020.