Via introduced as new Sioux Falls public transit service provider
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Back in September, the City of Sioux Falls announced that it had found a new company to help run it’s public transportation system. On Tuesday, the City of Sioux Falls got a look at that company, and what changes may be coming to technology, accessibility, or even route changes in the future.
Starting on January 1, 2024, Via will be taking over as the city’s public transit service provider. The company was selected following a Request for Proposal process, which is required for federal funding.
“The current transit provider, we reached the end of our contract with them, it expired. We needed to do a total RFP. We do receive federal funding, so it’s part of the process,” Sioux Falls Planning & Development Services Director Jeff Eckhoff said.
Eckhoff said Via shares a lot of the same goals and excitement that the city has for the future of public transit, naming it’s use of technology and data as a benefit.
“First of all, a rider-first mentality. Very focused on the experience for the rider, very focused on a smooth transition, as we move into a new service provider. And then their technology, their ability to meld services together, to provide end-to-end services. Just the whole experience that we think will be greatly enhanced,” Eckhoff said. “I will tell you that through this process, this transition process that we’ve been in since September, our confidence in their ability to deliver just continues to grow. They’ve been a great team to work with, they’re responsive. At this point, I know that we are in contact with someone from Via on a daily basis, several times a day, through the different teams that they’ve set up.”
While Via Chief Operating Officer Alex Lavoie said they do want to implement new technology in the future, like a new app for riders to use, any changes are a long ways out.
“We’re going to do that in careful consultation with the city, with the [Public Transit Advisory Board], and with the SAM staff to make sure we do this in a way that’s communicated effectively to any riders that might have changes to the way that they interact with the system,” Lavoie said.
The company also plans on studying current SAM routes and services, to see if there may be more efficiency to squeeze out in the future.
“So by looking at the cost per ride and accessibility by route, we’re able to design sort of a more equitable and accessible transit plan,” Lavoie said.
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