This article was originally published by Christopher Carey on Cities Today, the leading news platform on urban mobility and innovation, reaching an international audience of city leaders. For the latest updates follow Cities Today on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube, or sign up for Cities Today News.
Jersey City’s on-demand transit program Via Jersey City is expanding to provide a weekend service, Mayor Steve Fulop has announced.
The expansion coincides with the one-year anniversary of the launch of the service with mobility company Via. Fulop said the initiative has exceeded its goals of connecting transit deserts and providing a low-cost alternative option for residents.
“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.
As a result of high demand and a survey showing 38% of riders requested additional days of service, the network has been expanded to Saturdays.
The new service hours will cover Monday-Friday, 6am to 10pm and Saturday 8am to 10pm, and users can book trips through the Via app or by phone.
Journeys cost US$2 (£1.44) to or from the Central Zone, and US$2 plus US$0.50 per mile for rides within the Outer Zone. The service includes wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
“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.”
In September 2019, Jersey City, which is the second-largest city in New Jersey after Newark, announced its intention to create a subsidized, on-demand rideshare network.
The service launched on 25 February 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to take hold in the US.
To date, Via Jersey City has provided more than 216,000 rides, with top destinations including key transportation hubs and shopping/business districts.
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Traditional public transit in New Jersey saw ridership drops of up to 90% at the height of the pandemic.
In response to shifting commuter patterns, the state transit agency, NJ Transit, announced the rollout of a new bulk ticket-purchasing option last month as part of a pilot program to offer more flexibility.
Customers can now purchase 20 one-way tickets for bus, light rail, and train which will be sold at a 20% discount compared to the regular fare.
FLEXPASS tickets have to be used within 30 days from purchase and can only be bought using the agency’s smartphone app.
“We are working to make transit as attractive as possible and traditional monthly, weekly and ten-trip tickets are not economically optimal for many of our customers based on their current commuting frequency,” said Kevin Corbett, NJ Transit CEO and President. “Our hope is that we can encourage customers to return to transit by offering a flexible fare option that meets their needs.”
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