Via announced TARTA Flex, a new on-demand public transit service booked through a mobile app in partnership with Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA).
This is the first microtransit launch made possible through a transit agency’s membership to NEORide, an Ohio-based consortium.
TARTA Flex’s microtransit model will expand access to equitable and sustainable public transit in Lucas County and Rossford, Ohio, allowing anyone in the TARTA Flex service zones to order a pre-booked or on-demand shared ride through the TARTA Flex app.
Special service for paratransit and senior riders will also be available through TARTA Flex.
“We are happy to greatly increase the number of people in northwest Ohio for whom public transit is a viable option,” Andy Cole, communication and marketing manager at TARTA. “From customers with an easy path to visiting family members to businesses that can widen their pool of potential employees, we’ve already heard from so many residents for whom this service removes barriers and creates opportunities.”
Via’s intelligent algorithms match multiple riders headed in the same direction into a single vehicle.
TARTA Flex is designed to fill in “transit deserts” by providing coverage in areas where TARTA’s 30 fixed-route lines do not reach.
Laney Cloud, central U.S. partnerships lead at Via, discussed how the company planned for anticipated challenges before launch.
“During the planning process, we spent time strategizing where to place the zone boundaries of Flex in order to best complement TARTA’s fixed-route lines,” Cloud said. “As with any Via TransitTech launch, we also trained drivers on how to use Via’s driver app interface — by day two of service, all drivers started their shift on time without issue.”
TARTA’s membership to NEORide made possible the expedited launch of TARTA Flex. With NEORide’s partnership agreement with Via (effective as of November 2022), NEORide members can introduce Via’s TransitTech solutions into their public transportation networks without undergoing a separate formalized request-for-proposal (RFP) process.
They also benefit from NEORide’s cooperative agreements, joint purchasing power, and strategic management offerings.
“The TARTA Flex launch process illuminated how NEORide membership can benefit transit agencies looking to scale innovative mobility programs,” Cloud said. “As a result of NEORide’s expedited procurement process, TARTA and Via were able to quickly begin the planning and launch process to get Flex on the ground and accessible to community members.”
As a result of the new partnership with Via, NEORide’s 20-plus transit agency members (including those from Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, West Virginia, and Arkansas) gain support to deploy public transportation options like TARTA Flex, including on-demand microtransit and paratransit services.
“NEORide agencies have been able to work together on joint procurements with companies such as Via to expand their buying power,” said Katherine Conrad, director for NEORide. ”In addition, NEORide has received millions in federal and state grants to help fund programs to expand public transit access and regional transportation options.”
Via added that it helps its partners lower the cost of public transit while providing a flexible mobility option that is accessible to all riders. Via’s TransitTech software is used in more than 600 communities globally.
NEORide will be utilizing the Via system in its next major project EZConnect for joint scheduling, dispatching, and customer service.
We’re looking forward to using this service to expand options for employment, medical appointments, and recreation to so many people, and connecting our customers with everything this area has to offer,” Cole said.
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