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Los Angeles is using ride-hailing startup Via to shuttle people to public transit – TechCrunch

Los Angeles is partnering with on-demand shuttle-based service Via as part of a pilot program that will give people rides to three busy public transit stations.

The pilot program, which launched Monday, aims to solve the first- and last-mile problem that makes it challenging for people to get to and from public transit stations. Under the pilot program, Via will provide on-demand rides to and from the Compton, El Monte and North Hollywood stations. Via takes multiple passengers heading in the same direction and books them into a shared vehicle.

The pilot program with Via aims to combat decreasing public transit ridership, which has been hit by the rise in Uber and Lyft ride-hailing services as well as personal car ownership. Cities like Los Angeles are looking for ways to bring to public transit the dynamic, on-demand features that make ride-hailing popular.

“This innovative pilot program will give riders another glimpse into LA’s comprehensive future transportation system. Many Metro users face a challenge getting from home to station and vice versa,” LA County Supervisor and Metro Board Chair Sheila Kuehl said in a statement. “They need a quick, easy, and inexpensive door-to-door solution and this new pilot is one to consider.”

The year-long pilot between Via and Metro is valued at $2.5 million, which is funded in part by a $1.35 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration.

Via vehicles carry between 3 to 6 passengers. Rides are free for those registered with Metro’s low-income subsidy programs. For TAP card holders, rides are $1.75 a trip. Rides for everyone else are $3.75.

Via operates consumer-facing shuttles in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York. The company also partners with cities and transportation authorities, giving clients access to their platform to deploy their own shuttles. For instance, Austin’s Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority uses the Via platform to power the city’s Pickup service. Via’s platform is also used by Arriva Bus UK, a Deutsche Bahn Company, for a first- and last-mile service connecting commuters to a high-speed train station in Kent, U.K.

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