VIA’s U-Pass offers higher education students, faculty, and staff free trip options

As students, faculty, and staff at participating local colleges and universities return to in-person instruction at their respective campuses, they can enjoy a major perk for their spring schedules—free, unlimited access to bus service anywhere in the VIA service area with the VIA U-Pass.

Through their schools’ partnerships with the VIA U-Pass program, more than 90,000 students, faculty, and staff members at the University of Texas at San Antonio  (UTSA) and all Alamo Colleges (San Antonio College, Palo Alto College, Northwest Vista College, St. Philip’s College, and Northeast Lakeview College), as well as students enrolled at Our Lady of the Lake University, the University of the Incarnate Word, and local tech incubator CodeUp, have free access to unlimited trips on regular bus service throughout the school year, including the spring and summer sessions.

The VIA U-Pass is designed to provide convenient access to public transportation and to help address the challenges of growing student populations with limited and paid parking options on or near campus. The U-Pass does not require a student purchase. It’s provided to all students enrolled in participating colleges and universities through their partnerships with VIA.

The VIA U-Pass also may be used for VIA Link services. In November 2021, VIA added its third VIA Link on-demand zone to provide service connecting a 14.4 square mile area along Loop 1604 from Babcock to Culebra and on Bandera Road from Loop 1604 to Mainland, including the UTSA Main Campus and Northwest Vista College. VIA Link service replaces fixed routes in the zone with more frequent service for the same fares as regular bus service. Customers can book trips using a free app, online portal, or by phone. Passengers can travel anywhere in the zone or to convenient transfer points to connect with the full VIA system. The flexibility provides better frequency, decreases travel times, minimizes walking distances, and offers more pick-up and drop-off locations. Expanding on-demand service is part of VIA’s Keep SA Moving plan that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in November 2020. It’s part of a plan to provide smart transit options, using technology and partnerships for better service.

Students with smartphones can access the U-Pass through the VIA’s goMobile+ app. Alamo Colleges students who don’t have smartphones can board the bus by presenting their school ID card. Students at participating universities who don’t have smartphones can board the bus by presenting their ID with a VIA sticker provided by their school.

Riders are still required to wear a mask, according to guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a mandate from the federal government. VIA will continue daily and enhanced cleaning of all vehicles and encourages the community to observe good hygiene practices, including frequent handwashing and hand sanitizer.

Students who attend schools not enrolled in the VIA U-Pass program, are eligible for reduced fares throughout the school year with the Semester Pass.

Schools interested in partnering with VIA to offer the U-Pass can call 210-362-2020. Visit VIA Link page for more information and to download the VIA Link brochure.