In partnership with the University of Texas at Arlington, Via Rideshare and May Mobility, the City of Arlington recently launched an on-demand autonomous vehicle program. The Arlington RAPID pilot program, which provides rides throughout the Downtown Business Improvement District and UTA, is the first in the United States to integrate on-demand autonomous vehicles into its existing public transportation service.
RAPID (Rideshare, Automation, and Payment Integration Demonstration) employs a fleet of five self-driving vehicles, including one that’s wheelchair-accessible. RAPID is not a circulator service like a bus; it provides dynamic point-to-point pick-up and drop-off services and automatically finds the most efficient route to take. Each vehicle is staffed by a fleet attendant who is available to assist customers and explain the features of the program.
The Downtown Arlington Business Improvement District, which is served by RAPID, measures only about one square mile but includes an abundance of popular destinations. The district includes many small and medium-sized businesses, locally-owned shops and restaurants, cultural institutions, the Downtown Library, City Hall, Urban Union, residential communities, and UT Arlington.
For decades the City of Arlington struggled to meet its mobility needs without a traditional public transit system. But with the launch of Via Rideshare in 2017, the 2017-18 Milo off-street pilot program, and the 2018-19 on-street pilot program with drive.ai vehicles, the City discovered a next gen solution: on-demand public transit.
Now, Downtown Arlington serves as the perfect backdrop for the Arlington RAPID pilot program. With its ongoing investment in a diverse start-up and entrepreneurial business culture, Downtown has created a very synergistic eco-system for innovation, making the district a perfect fit for RAPID. The pilot program is being funded through a $1.7 million grant provided by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
“Downtown Arlington is the perfect place for demonstrating the proven technology and rider benefits of RAPID,” said Maggie Campbell, President and CEO of Downtown Arlington Management Corporation. “Downtown generates strong demand for hyper-local movement within our district, particularly during the day. Commuters and locals alike want on-demand mobility to go to work, host meetings at different venues, grab lunch or coffee, and meet friends after work. They also want to park and re-park as little as possible, and they are savvy users of on-demand and rideshare technology. Downtown Arlington is ready to take RAPID for a ride!”
RAPID is available to book through the Via app and runs from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday or by calling Via’s customer service line at 817-784-7382. Via’s standard fares apply to rides taken on RAPID by the general public. Because of UTA’s participation in the pilot program, UTA students can ride on RAPID for free.
Click here to learn more about RAPID.
Photo credit: City of Arlington