The city of Cupertino launched a new micro-transit service in October of last year partnering with a company called Via aimed to better suit the needs of the city’s’ residents.
A survey last year conducted by the city found that the majority of Cupertino residents do not use the VTA bus routes frequently because they are incompatible to riders’ destinations.
The Via shuttle service has experienced an uptick in ridership since the end of the holiday season.
“The ridership has been growing fast and we’ll actually be needing to expand it and add more vans, which is a good problem to have,” said Chris Corrao, the Senior Transportation Planner of Cupertino, .
Despite the shuttle service’s popularity, the drivers, who are self-contracted, have experienced issues with work hours they were promised by Via.
Via driver Khan Pham said the company originally promised drivers a maximum of 12 work hours a day, but then cut drivers’ shifts to eight and six hours.
“I will ask for extra hours and they will give you extra hours but it will be unscheduled,” he said. “You don’t know what day you’re going to get it or not going to get it. You just don’t know.”
According to a current employee of Via who wished to remain anonymous, a top manager disclosed that they are hoping to compete with VTA services, leading to a cut in bus routes and operator jobs, but increasing a larger user base for Via.
Corrao said that the city has been working closely with other cities in the Silicon Valley to promote the use of Via shuttles, but said there are no current plans by the VTA to cut back on bus routes and they are currently adding more frequent times to bus routes.
Via offers one way fares at a flat rate of $3.50, and adding an additional rider costs $1.00. Senior citizens, low-income residents and students are all eligible to receive a 50% discount.
“Anyone can come in that’s a De Anza college student with their I.D. to city hall and we’ll give you a discount code,” said Corrao.
De Anza students have two available pick-up and destination points on campus, the transit center in front of the Registration and Student Services Building and the pick-up and drop off location in Parking Lot C.
“People can help us out by giving it a try, riding it, and if you like it you can tell friends about it and get a couple of free rides,” said Corrao.