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The world is increasingly “smart.” From streetlights to traffic signals and mobile devices to home appliances, technology is improving all aspects of our daily lives – making it easier for us to go where we need to go and do what we need to do.
Public transportation should be no different. The VIA Reimagined Plan uses Smart Transit solutions to bolster a Better Bus System and an Advanced Rapid Transit Network as part of a modern public transit network that offers convenient options so that choosing transit is easy.
VIA Reimagined builds upon the Vision 2040 Plan, which was developed with years of community input and sets the stage for strategies today that have resulted in more people riding VIA. That matters because when more people ride transit there’s more room on the road for all vehicles, including yours.
Smart Transit solutions leverage technology, like the VIA goMobile app, designed to streamline boarding with off-bus fare collection and make using transit easier with online trip planning. But Smart Transit goes beyond technology to incorporate strategic partnerships that are helping VIA deliver a reimagined transit system.
Regional transportation options
VIA is collaborating with community leaders and the region’s leading transportation experts like the Texas Department of Transportation, the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, ConnectSA and others to deliver modern, multimodal options. These aren’t far-away projects. They’re happening now.
- VIA buses will connect directly to and operate San Antonio’s first High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane, built in partnership with TxDOT, from the Stone Oak Park and Ride facility on U.S. 281. HOV lanes, which will be managed by VIA in an agreement with TxDOT, will be reserved for transit vehicles and cars with more than one occupant to encourage carpooling or riding public transportation.
- In another partnership with TxDOT, VIA will develop Park and Pool facilities along key corridors where commuters can park their cars and share a ride to work in formal or informal vanpools or carpools.
- VIA is collaborating with regional transportation agencies such as Austin’s Capital Metropolitan Transit Authority to develop regional transit connectors.
Building the infrastructure needed for a reimagined system is just the beginning of VIA’s Smart Transit solutions. Collaborations with businesses and educational institutions ensure people have better access to public transportation to provide more connections to education, employment, and economic development.
Increasing access to education
VIA’s U-Pass provides an easy and affordable way for over 90,000 local college and university students, staff, and faculty to campus without battling traffic or the stress and expense of parking. The U-Pass offers partner institutions access to unlimited trips on regular VIA bus service anywhere in the agency’s service area. This program, currently offered at Our Lady of the Lake University, Alamo Colleges and the University of Texas at San Antonio, also helps the institutions divert capital funds that might be used for building parking structures to invest in student resources.
Mobility on Demand
VIA recognizes one size does not fit all when it comes to public transit. There are some portions of the service area where regular bus service simply isn’t efficient for customers or cost-effective for VIA. VIA saw this challenge as an opportunity to innovate its service delivery. It launched VIA Link, an on-demand transit service model, in May and has served more than 15,000 passengers in Northeast San Antonio.
VIA Link allows transit riders to schedule trips in minivans using a smartphone app to book the shared ride. Passengers are picked up at a designated pickup point and dropped off anywhere in the zone, or connected to a regular bus route to continue their trips all for the same cost of regular bus fare. VIA Link vans are accessible for passengers with mobility impairment and vehicles with bike racks can be requested during booking to accommodate cyclists.
VIA Link is the first-of-its-kind service in San Antonio and one of the first in the nation. The service decreases travel times, improves frequency – Link drivers arrive within 5 to 7 minutes of booking – and minimizes the distance most passengers have to walk.
As VIA plans for the future population growth in San Antonio and addresses today’s transportation challenges, Smart Transit solutions will shape a reimagined transit system that will keep our region moving.
VIA will continue to reach out to the community to help shape that plan. Visit VIAinfo.net/Reimagined to find out more, join the conversation, or request a presentation from VIA’s Public Engagement Team.