More people are riding VIA today than in several years, according to new data that shows routes with improved frequency have delivered steady passenger increases and are reversing the trend on daily ridership.
VIA tracked four straight months of ridership gains at the close of 2019, with a marked increase in year-over-year ridership (between 3 and 6 percent) for the months of September, October, November and December—a trend that shows VIA’s continued efforts to improve frequency and reliability boost transit use.
Funding has allowed more frequency of direct service routes to downtown, which in turn has increased ridership. Photos by Jeff Ramirez/Staff
Improvements on key routes throughout the VIA service area are attracting new riders and drawing former riders back to the system. Public transit agencies nationwide have seen ridership slide in recent years, including VIA who was reporting lower customer numbers until its partnership with the City of San Antonio delivered improvements to key routes in all 10 City Council districts.
In October 2018, the City began providing $10 million every fiscal year to help cut wait times by half or more on 18 key routes. That means routes previously running every 60 minutes are now running at 30 minutes, and 20-minute routes are running at 15 minutes or better. In 2019, VIA implemented two new Prímo corridors, offering service every 12 minutes throughout the core of the day.
These improvements are part of the VIA Reimagined Plan, a 10-year strategic plan designed to deliver more service, more choices and more opportunity. It focuses on building a better bus system, developing an advanced rapid transit network of dedicated lanes, and offering smart transit solutions to make it easier to connect.
“VIA Reimagined is about transforming lives and connecting people to the places that are important to them, important to our economic development, to educational attainment, to family and friends, and to our overall quality of life,” said VIA President/CEO Jeffrey C. Arndt. “More people will have access to high frequency service because of this plan, and we are just beginning to see the return on investment for our efforts.”
VIA Reimagined builds on VIA’s Vision 2040 Long-Range Plan and people-driven findings to see beyond the current system where the majority of its bus routes run at a 45- to 60-minute frequency. It builds on improvements that have already been delivered, including more than 1,000 new or improved bus shelters and a new trip-planning and payment app. New high-frequency Prímo service and shorter waits on key routes are also now a reality. To learn more about VIA Reimagined or request an educational presentation, visit VIAreimagined.com.