The one-year pilot program aims to serve LA areas not serviced by other Metro options. The project will focus on the Compton, El Monte, and North Hollywood communities. Riders can use the application for only $1.75 per trip with use of a TAP card. Those without a TAP card can ride for $3.75, but creators hope this will inspire more people to adopt public transportation. The partnership with Via will cost Metro $2.5 million, paid in part by the Federal Transportation Administration. Via is not expecting to make a profit unless the service exceeds their expected ridership per hour.
"The whole idea of this is to make sure this is open to communities that don't have great access to [ride-share services] right now," Joshua Schank, the chief innovation at LA Metro's Office of Extraordinary Innovation, told Wired. "The entire premise of this pilot is based on learning from past experiences and trying to do something better."
Some college students hold high hopes for the application, looking forward to a more cost-efficient and safer way of getting around. In an interview with Annenberg Media, Alex Port, a Ph.D. student at USC, said, "It's going to be especially good late at night, much like Campus Cruiser at USC, just getting these students around safely."
Others like Harry Campbell, on Twitter as @TheRideshareGuy, doubt the viability and necessity of the project altogether. He believes that with larger apps like Uber and Lyft, there will be too much competition for obtaining new users. " No shade to Via, but since they have no built-in users in LA like Uber and Lyft, it makes… convincing [users] to share a ride at the density required to make it effective nearly impossible."
James Moore, USC Viterbi & Price's Director of Transportation and Engineering, said in an interview, "I am all for an application that strives to assist low-income families, but suppose it works. Uber and Lyft could be upset with the [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] possibly subsidizing this new application instead."
LA Metro and Via were unable to respond to multiple requests for interviews.