SUBSCRIBE NOW

App could make public transportation easier in Georgetown

Jerry Griner of Seaford, left, and Michael Young of Smyrna, wait for a bus at the DART Georgetown Transit Hub on Railroad Avenue.

Innovative software could make navigating public transportation in and around Georgetown a lot easier.  

Via Transportation's app and accompanying software will help the Delaware Authority for Regional Transit, or DART, expand certain services and optimize users' route selection process.

The Delaware Transit Corporation will pilot Via next year, thanks to a $317,692 Accelerating Innovative Mobility grant from the Federal Transit Administration. 

The transit corporation runs DART, which is more than the ubiquitous buses. It's also paratransit buses and passenger vehicles. Those options, as well as participating private taxi services, will all be streamlined through the Via app. 

Services formerly accessible only by advance scheduling, like paratransit (also known as Flex) buses, will be available on-demand to app users during the pilot.  

The app works by asking riders to input key information, such as time and location, and instantly provides a list of the best options available.  

The Via app will allow DART riders to view the best options specific to their time and location.

While Via’s technology is similar to Uber or Lyft, it doesn’t turn DART into a taxi service. 

“This new app is like getting on a virtual bus stop,” said Veronica Vanterpool, Delaware Transit Corporation chief innovation officer. “We’re trying to get you on our network in an easier way. It only helps where we have existing services available.” 

She expects Via to launch in Georgetown in late spring or fall of 2021, and hopes to expand its coverage area in the future. 

“We really want to make it easier, more convenient and affordable to use transit,” Vanterpool said. 

Via’s benefits are more than just convenience, according to the company’s website. It also reduces traffic congestion, carbon emissions and transit systems’ operational costs.  

Via’s software is already in use around the world, in places like Seattle, Berlin and Abu Dhabi.