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Metro to offer ride-hailing service bridging first/last mile to transit stops

FILE: A new LA Metro ride-hailing service could take riders to and from transit stops beginning in the summer of 2018.
FILE: A new LA Metro ride-hailing service could take riders to and from transit stops beginning in the summer of 2018.
LA Metro

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Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced a partnership Friday with an on-demand ride-hailing service called Via to offer shared rides to and from major transit stops.

Los Angeles County is in the midst of a transit-building boom, but still less than a quarter of the population lives within walking distance of a train or rapid bus stop, according to a recent study.

The service will work like Uber or Lyft, except rides will be shared. They’ll also be subsidized by Metro and they’ll be accessible for people with disabilities and those without a smartphone.

The plan sounds similar to another project Metro is pursuing called Microtransit. The agency is currently soliciting ideas from private companies to develop that on-demand service, which calls for vanpools in areas with scarce transit.

The goal of the Via partnership is a little bit more specific — to shuttle riders to bridge the so-called first and last mile gap between transit stations and homes or offices.

The Via program will roll out at three Metro stations next summer funded by a $1.35 million federal grant.

Metro hasn’t decided yet which stations will be served and the cost of the subsidized fare hasn't been set, but officials say it will be cheaper than a private ride-hailing service.

Metro is partnering with UCLA to study the results of the program. The Seattle area is undertaking a similar project next year, also funded by the Federal Transit Administration.