Southeast Michigan launches on-demand, first-and-last mile transit service with Via


Southeast Michigan’s regional public transportation provider Smart, has partnered with Via, to create a first-of-its-kind, on-demand mobility solution for Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties that will transform the way residents are able to access public transit.

This week, Smart began to operate its new on-demand public transit service, Smart Flex, as a complement and extension to the existing transit system in the area. And has also announced that free rides will be offered to anyone travelling to and from their Covid-19 vaccination appointment.

Smart Flex is the authority’s first venture into microtransit and will strengthen a comprehensive transit network across the region by encouraging first-and-last mile connections to existing bus routes. The service will also facilitate local trips to hospitals, universities, and commercial destinations.

Using the SMART Flex mobile app anyone within the zones will be able to hail a vehicle directly from their smartphone or by calling the call center at (734) 212-8429. Via’s advanced algorithms create quick and efficient trips by matching passengers and vehicles together in real time, and directing riders to a nearby “virtual bus stop” for pick up and drop off.

The service will offer wheelchair-accessible vehicles and offer door-to-door service for those with limited mobility. SMART is hosting community events this week to increase awareness of the new service in each of the three areas.

“The launch of Smart Flex is a pivotal moment for transit in the Metro Detroit area,” says Daniel Ramot, Via CEO and co-founder. “A technology-enabled mobility solution will enhance and extend the strong transit network that Smart has already established, and offer a new way for residents to access critical opportunities across the region.”

SMART Flex will offer microtransit trips from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week. Rides start at US$2, with a maximum price of US$8, depending on distance.

Smart has also launched free rides to-and-from vaccination sites in Metro Detroit. Trips to vaccine centers are door-to-door, and are available weekdays from 8am to 6pm and on weekends from 10am to 4pm Smart was able to use Via’s flexible transit platform to adjust and expand the Smart Flex service area for vaccination trips as more vaccine sites opened throughout the region.

To date, Smart has provided more than 500 rides for residents to get their vaccination, helping to eliminate transit as a barrier. The microtransit service is an added transit service that will help Smart’s effort, as a transit provider, to ensure a ride is available for anyone in the region to get vaccinated.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).