New on-demand transportation service launches in Birmingham
PRESS RELEASE Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Contact: Cody Owens
A new transportation option in Birmingham was launched today — the on-demand ride service provided by Via.
In September, the Council approved the contract for River North Transit LLC (otherwise known as Via), a multinational company that operates in over 80 cities. The service will be an additional option for transportation within the limits of the pilot program boundaries, which includes as far West as the CrossPlex and extends downtown, with access to hospitals and grocery stores.
If the six-month pilot program is successful, the company will look to expand the boundaries throughout the city to accommodate more riders. The City of Birmingham has allocated $250,000 for the pilot program and has partnered with the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham that will be contributing up to $502,000 in funding.
In order to ride, there will be a flat fee of $1.50 per rider, each way. On average, the vehicle will pick up riders within 15 minutes. People will be able to access rides by downloading the Via app, they can call 205–236–0768 or they can order a ride online. The company will operate six branded Mercedes Metris vans that will transport riders. Rides are available Monday — Friday 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who chairs the Transportation Committee, believes this program will be a game-changer for residents who lack reliable transportation in Birmingham.
“First and foremost I want people to know this is a service that is meant to be complimentary to the public transportation system that we already have here,” O’Quinn said. “Having a lack of public transportation options available to our residents is one of the biggest issues we face in this city. We’re going to continue to find solutions to address these needs. Having this service available will be crucial to help the approximately 13 percent of our population that does not have access to a vehicle. We’re going to keep bringing forward additional options to help fill that need.”
Councilor John Hilliard has been a big proponent for additional transportation options in Birmingham. “We’re not trying to replace the BJCTA or anything like that. This is just another option for people who need a cheap, reliable way to get to doctors appointments or to go buy groceries. I see they have transportation like this in other cities. We’re thinking down the road. It’s always good to have choices. It’s our fiduciary responsibility to provide the best transportation opportunities to our citizens.”
The neighborhoods that will be serviced by the pilot program include: Smithfield, Graymont, College Hills, Bush Hills, Rising West Princeton, East Thomas, Fairview, Downtown and portions of Southside. The plan is to expand the program after the 6-month pilot program. Via will serve riders Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The service area covers 6.7 square miles.