VTA introduces app for on-demand bus service in parts of San Jose

- Public transportation in San Jose is going high-tech. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority unveiled on Thursday an "on-demand" bus service that picks you up where you want, when you want.

With the touch of an app, a group of politicians and dignitaries have requested a ride.

And while on-demand cars aren't anything new, on-demand buses are.

Call this the Uber of public transportation.

"Our goal was to get this kind of convenience for riders who use transit," says A.J. Trivedi, CEO of Ridecell who designed the app.

VTA unveiled the Flex program today. For now they're testing it in a 3-square mile area of North San Jose that happens to be densly populated with homes and businesses.

"It's fun because we're competing against Uber and Lyft and I love that. I think it's a great role for the public to play," says Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

The cost will be just $2 or $3 depending on the time of day. The app will create a route and show the driver who to pick up along the way, though riders will have to make their way to a designated Flex stop for pickup.

"It's definitely different, unique and hopefully our customers will enjoy it," says Gary Miskell CTO of VTA.

The hope is to make it easier for riders to get where they're going and to connect to other buses or trains, if necessary.

Besides, government officials say, it's important to change with the times.

"The question is can government become as innovative as the community we serve? Well VTA is stepping up to that challenge," says San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

And these San Jose residents say, Flex is an innovation they're willing to try.

"It makes it easy, convenient, short distance. Absolutely I'll take advantage of it," says Miguel Luque of San Jose.

"And you're tailoring public transportation to your own needs, basically. Instead of you being on their schedule, they're being on yours," says Chandra Solis.

Right now there about 150 of the Flex stops and about 6 buses. VTA plans to test Flex for the next 6 to 12 months and if it's successful, they'll expand it.
 


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