JERSEY CITY, NJ - Mayor Steven M. Fulop and Via, the leader in TransitTech, announce the expansion to weekend service of New Jersey’s first publicly subsidized on-demand transit system. This week marks the one-year anniversary of the system’s launch, with the system exceeding every goal of connecting transit deserts and providing a low-cost alternative option for residents across Jersey City.
Since the February 2020 launch, Via has provided over 216,000 rides, most of which originated from the West and South areas of Jersey City, with top destinations being key transportation hubs and shopping/business districts, officials reported. Despite the pandemic, the service is exceeding every goal and has been more resilient than traditional public transit in Jersey City, proving to be a critical transportation offering, especially for the underserved communities who need it most.
“Via is meeting and exceeding our goals of expanding connectivity with affordable transportation, providing residents with more opportunities, and improving quality of life, especially for our low-income and diverse populations in areas where reliable mass transit is otherwise scarce,” Fulop said.
The service, which has been referred to as a model, will be expanded to include Saturday services (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and the introduction of a new advertising platform to further enhance connectivity to commercial, medical, and professional opportunities across the City.
The advertising displays on Via vehicles will also help to generate revenue to support the citywide program.
“Via Jersey City reimagines public transit in a way that prioritizes equity, resilience, and the environment,” said Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via. “We are proud to work with Mayor Fulop to continue to introduce innovative digital solutions that drive growth and access to public transit in Jersey City.”
The service was launched at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 to complement and extend Jersey City’s existing public transit infrastructure, specifically to fill the existing gaps in public transportation access in the North and South regions of the City. The Journal Square Transit Hub, Newport Mall, Hudson Mall, and Metro Plaza (Shoprite downtown) continue to be the most popular destinations.
Via Jersey City has provided more than 1,600 rides per day, with continued growth week over week. 70% of these rides are shared between multiple riders, and 62% of riders use the service most often to commute to work.
A diverse population across age, gender, and socioeconomic background have increasingly come to rely on Via Jersey City, which was defined as an original goal of the service. More than 50% of Via Jersey City riders make less than $50K, and the highest percentage identify as Black or African American.
Needing flexibility and adaptability to meet the changing demands of travel during the pandemic, the has experienced a 78% increase in ridership since the start of the health crisis. Today, ridership is more than double what it was before the pandemic. Technology-enabled transit enables the service to be flexible, and the City relies on the data to make informed decisions about service changes. Because of this, Jersey City was able to adjust for rider demand at periods of peak impact during the COVID-19 pandemic, a critical factor as cities grapple with changing ridership patterns.
According to rider data, the service is also keeping cars off the road, with more than 41% of riders surveyed saying they would have used private vehicles if the service was not available. Via officials have said that through the service 59,544 miles of driving, 53,034 pounds of CO2, and 2,707 gallons of gasoline consumption have been avoided this quarter.
“Reliable and affordable transportation options are crucial for residents of the City’s south side, and we worked really hard to get to this point,” said Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson. “The numbers show that by bringing in Via, we’re drastically changing the landscape for our residents who now have access to various opportunities that traditional mass transit left vacant.”
The Saturday service will begin on March 6 with users being able to book through the Via mobile app or by calling (201) 514-6228.
Rides cost $2 to-or-from the Central Zone, and $2 plus $0.50 per mile for rides within the Outer Zone. The service includes wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
Know a story we should share with readers? Email editor Steve Lenox and tell him about it.