CHARLOTTESVILLE/ALBEMARLE COUNTY, VA - Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) is proud to announce Via as the TransitTech software and operations provider for its new low-emission microtransit pilot program launching in Albemarle County this fall.
The service, tentatively called “MicroCAT,” will provide app-based, on-demand rides by using technology to expand access to flexible, equitable, and sustainable transportation. The service will function as an extension of CAT’s existing fixed-route bus lines and will provide coverage in Pantops and along Route 29 North – both identified as areas of high need for increased mobility access in a 2022 transit study.
Anticipated impacts of microtransit
"The selection of a vendor for microtransit service marks a major milestone in our ongoing
efforts to improve transportation options for the people who live and work in Albemarle County,” stated Donna Price, Chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. “This innovative service will bridge the gaps in our current transit system, providing convenient and efficient mobility solutions to our community. We are excited to see this service come to fruition."
Director of Transit at CAT, Garland Williams, echoed excitement, saying, "We are pleased to have identified the perfect partner for our microtransit service. Via brings a wealth of experience and expertise, aligning perfectly with our vision for enhanced transit services. Microtransit will pave the way for a more connected and accessible transportation network. We look forward to working closely with Via to ensure a seamless implementation and a successful launch this fall."
“Via is thrilled to partner with CAT to introduce a new frontier of public transit in Albemarle
County,” said Jake Bortz, East Coast Partnership Lead at Via. “Our partnerships in Virginia and across the world have proven to increase access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities – and we are excited to see how microtransit similarly transforms the mobility landscape for the Charlottesville area community.”
How microtransit works
Microtransit is a flexible solution designed to expand transportation access in so-called “transit deserts” – or areas where buses cannot easily reach. Riders can instantly book a trip through an app or by calling a phone number, and Via’s intelligent algorithms will match riders headed in the same direction into shared vehicles.
Riders will typically be directed to a nearby “virtual bus stop” around 500 feet away for pickup and dropoff. The result is an efficient transit option that combines the affordability and sustainability of the bus with the convenience of a private car.
The fleet will consist of hybrid electric vehicles, and wheelchair-accessible vehicles are available upon request.
The upcoming launch of CAT’s microtransit service aligns with similar transit initiatives
throughout the commonwealth and across the country. Via’s software powers programs in
Alexandria, Williamsburg, Gloucester, Wise County, Richmond County, Roanoke County, and Hampton Roads.
The service will be made possible through a $1.5m Virginia Department of Rail and Public
Transportation grant to Charlottesville Area Transit and a match of $388,000 from Albemarle County.
More information about the microtransit program will be available in the coming weeks through a comprehensive public awareness campaign and a presentation to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors on September 20, 2023.