The city of Georgetown, Delaware, announced earlier this month it will launch a yearlong pilot starting in 2021 to make public transportation more accessible for its residents.
Starting in the Spring or Summer of next year, Georgetown’s 6,500 residents and seasonal tourists will be able to download Via Transportation, an app that integrates trip planning, booking and bus-tracking. Officials said the app will include virtually all of its transportation service schedules, including buses, dockless bicycles and scooters, on-demand shuttles and private taxi services.
Users will be able to input where they want to go at a certain time and the app will show transportation options, kind of like a “virtual bus stop,” said Veronica Vanterpool, the chief innovation officer for Delaware Transit Corporation.
The service won’t be far off from the kind of scheduling apps that have been tested in Portland, Oregon, and Columbus, Ohio, both of which have developed solutions to allow residents to reach their first or last mile of their journey.
Via has partnered with a host of local agencies to test out new transportation pilots, including Columbus, Ohio; West Sacramento, California; Los Angeles; and Arlington, Texas. Through those pilots, riders have been able to call for an on-demand taxi service or shuttle to the nearest bus stop for a flat-rate from anywhere in the cities, where officials have reported increasing public transit ridership.
The growing trend of microtransit services like Uber, Lyft, Via and dockless scooter and bicycle companies has given local transportation agencies an incentive to gather as much transportation data and services in one place as they can, Skip Newberry, the president of the Technology Association of Oregon, a nonprofit that promotes the state’s technology industry, told StateScoop last year. Georgetown’s app, which will be funded through a $317,692 Accelerating Innovative Mobility grant from the Federal Transit Administration, is Delaware’s first step toward that modernization.
“The real opportunity here is for cities to think about if there’s a common kernel or architecture that can be adopted by more than one city at a time in a way that helps move the market,” Newberry said. “The risk is you end up with a balkanization, if you will, of technology platforms and standards such that nothing really works well together.”