Arlington

Will people ride Arlington’s transit experiment as it expands?

Arlington Ride Sharing Service VIA

Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams announces the roll out of VIA, an app based ride sharing service to serve the downtown Arlington area at first, Monday, Dec., 11,
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Arlington Mayor Jeff Williams announces the roll out of VIA, an app based ride sharing service to serve the downtown Arlington area at first, Monday, Dec., 11,

A month after it launched, Arlington’s experiment with an on-demand ride-share service is expanding its reach.

Via, the ride-share company that has partnered with Arlington, is adding the areas north of Interstate 30 to Lamar Boulevard and south to Arkansas Lane in east Arlington.

The service started Dec. 11 by serving downtown Arlington, the University of Texas at Arlington, Texas Health Arlington Memorial and the entertainment district, which includes Six Flags Over Texas, AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park. Via also connects to the Trinity Railway Express Centreport/DFW Airport Station .

Like Uber or Lyft, a customer uses an app on their phone to book a ride. Instead of a car giving them an individual ride, they’re given directions to walk a block or two to meet up with a Mercedes-Benz van.

Rides cost $3 and the service has expanded its hours, running from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays. There is no service on Sunday.

Mayor Jeff Williams said it will take until March or April to see how popular Via will be with residents. There are plans later this year for the service to expand further south to take in the popular shopping areas in south Arlington.

“I think people are excited about it,” Williams said. “It gives our citizens access to our hospital and when it expands again later this year, it will give people access to our shopping areas like the Parks Mall and the Arlington Highlands.”

Via Rideshare Service Map 01-18-18
Via, the on-demand ride share company, has expanded service in Arlington. There are plans to expand the service to parts of south Arlington (shown in the lighter shade of blue) later this year. City of Arlington

One key group Arlington will be watching: UTA students, who returned to classes this week. Some students were upset when it was announced the Max bus service, which ran from UTA to Centreport, was going away at the end of the year because of declining ridership.

Via gives students a way to reach the CentrePort Station in east Fort Worth and then connect with rail service to either downtown Dallas or downtown Fort Worth.

“I think right now we’re defining success right now as getting the word out, downloading the app and using the service,” said Alicia Winkelblech, Arlington’s assistant director of strategic planning.

The goal is for each passenger to be picked up within 12 minutes. So far, that goal is being met, Winkelblech said.

The cost for the one-year pilot project is $922,500 with $600,000 coming from a Federal Transit Administration grant. The city is paying $322,500.

Up-to-date service area maps and operating hours will always be available through the free Via app or the Via website at www.ridewithvia.com/arlington.

In addition to the app, customers may call Via at 817-784-7382 to book a ride.

Bill Hanna: 817-390-7698, @fwhanna

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