The City of Arlington has replaced its existing fleet of buses with vans operated by Via, an on-demand ridesharing service. Arlington is the first city in Texas to take this step, and it’s among the first cities in the country to try eliminating buses. Supporters of the idea say it is more cost-effective for the city and more efficient for riders. Critics wonder whether all of the city’s bus riders will continue to have access to public transit.
Jeff Williams, the mayor of Arlington, says the vans are more convenient than buses because they provide nearly door-to-door service. A ride on Arlington’s Via van is $3. The service area is in the northern part of the city, and includes downtown, the entertainment district and the University of Texas at Arlington area. Williams says the service area will eventually expand throughout the city.
Williams compares the system to Uber or Lyft, ride-hailing services that allow customers to order a ride using a smartphone app and a credit card. In Arlington, Via uses six-passenger vans, and passengers share the ride with other customers.
The program, which began in January, is a one-year pilot project. Williams says things are going well.
“With the success we’ve already had, I feel certain that we’ll be expanding it and lengthening it,” he says. “And it is one piece of Arlington’s public transportation system.”
For people who don’t have a smartphone or credit card, there’s a phone number customers can call to request a ride. Riders without a credit card can pay cash for the service, using a cash card.
Arlington is a city of nearly 400,00 residents.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.