Here’s what you need to know about Birmingham’s new $1.50 corner-to-corner microtransit ride service in a Mercedes van.


Getting around Birmingham is about to get a lot easier. Download the Birmingham on demand app. Photo form Via

Need a ride? No problem. On Tuesday, December 3rd, the Magic City will offer its first on-demand ride-share service! This corner-to-corner service will cost users only $1.50 each way. Transportation will be provided in a Mercedes van.

This is a 6 month pilot project offered by the City of Birmingham and Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, working with Via. Via is the world’s leading provider of on-demand public mobility solutions. Keep reading for all the deets.

How to Use the Service

Download the app! Photo from Via

Ever used Uber or Lyft? Via works pretty much like it. As a vanpool service, you share a ride with up to five other passengers. It’s an on-demand app based platform that you can download for free. Go – HERE – to download on Apple or HERE from Google.

Get the app now so you’ll be ready on Day One. You’ll get a “push” notification when it’s live.

If you want to go “old school” and forgo the app-based program, you can always call Via at 205-236-0768 to book a ride, on or after Dec. 3rd.

The Zone

Are you in the zone? Photo courtesy of the City of Birmingham

Remember, this is a six-month pilot, so the new microtransit program will not be covering the entire city initially.

In a nutshell, the zone covers Downtown and some of the western area neighborhoods. Key destinations in the zone include major healthcare services, municipal services, Birmingham Intermodal Station, UAB, event venues, parks, Legion Field, Crossplex, and daily services like groceries and pharmacies. The zone also touches the Southside, Five Points and Lakeview areas, if you walk a few blocks to get picked up or dropped off in the zone. In total 15 neighborhoods & 5 City Council districts are part of the zone.

Birmingham Intermodal Facility
Birmingham’s new downtown Intermodal Facility. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Step by Step – How the Program Works

Photo from Via

So you want to travel in the zone – how does it work?

  • Pull up the app and type in where you want to go.
  • It drops a pin where you are / where you want to get picked up.
  • It then tells you your wait time, which should be less than 15 MINUTES.
  • It delivers you corner-to-corner. You may have to walk about one block for pick up or drop off, which is a function of how the algorithm pushes the shortest traffic pattern for the drivers.

This is NOT traditional public transportation. This is different. It is dynamic, flexible and responsive, and it changes in real time.

Flat Rate

All rides will be $1.50. The fee is paid through the app or the call. No cash is exchanged in the vehicle. It is similar to Lyft and Uber in that manner, except it is a shared service.

How Many Vehicles? What kind?

6-passenger Mercedes Metris vans. Photo from City of Birmingham

Via will have 4-6 vehicles operating at one time throughout the zone including a wheelchair accessible van. All the vehicles are 6-passenger Mercedes Metris vans.

Hours of Service

The service will be operating from 6AM to 8PM Monday through Friday. On Saturday it will be available 10AM to 8PM. There is no service planned for Sunday. Since this is a pilot program, times may change over the six months to best fit people’s needs.

Want to be a Driver?

Via is currently interviewing and hiring drivers for the program. Feel free to apply – HERE.

Why Microtransit Matters

Birmingham, Alabama Skyline
Birmingham, Alabama skyline. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

The city of Birmingham’s Transportation Department is focused on providing multiple transportation options beyond people driving alone in their car.

Microtransit is one such “tool” in the city’s transportation toolbox that includes walking, cycling, transit, cars and trucks.

“We have been looking for additional layers of service to support the transportation needs of our residents. Through this partnership with the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, we are confident Via’s innovative transportation system will offer an additional option for on-demand transportation to our residents with an emphasis on connecting them with the services they need on a daily basis,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said.

Photo from Via

Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, Chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, has been a leading proponent of the project.

“People need to be able to easily move around the city in order to thrive. Likewise, the city will realize gains when all of our citizens have access to convenient, affordable mobility opinions. Reducing reliance on private automobile ownership is fundamental to improving quality of life, and thus also an integral component of growing Birmingham generally.”

Lakey Boyd, deputy director at Birmingham Department of Transportation, added.

“We are trying to lessen our dependence from getting around town only in a car. Having fewer cars on the road will accelerate our ability to make sure that other modes like cycling and walking are safer and that we have more room on the street to enhance connectivity for all modes.”

According to the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, Via’s on demand corner-to-corner shared vanpool service will complement and extend the public transportation options in Birmingham.

Residentsparticipating in the Community Foundation’s community conversations to develop their new strategic priorities. Photo courtesy of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham

“In our community conversations throughout 2018, we heard over and over from people that better transportation systems are a critical priority.” stated Chris Nanni, President of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham. “We believe that a program like on-demand microtransit can provide affordable, reliable and accessible transit options for high-need, underserved residents.”

Birmingham One Demand is a great transportation option for seniors. Photo from Via

Regarding the Community Foundation’s role, Councilor O’Quinn summed it up best, “The importance of their involvement cannot be overstated. Not only have they made this pilot project possible with their financial support, but they’re also establishing a precedent for potential additional public-private partnerships aimed at improving mobility options. That is a real game-changer for Birmingham.”

Download the App Today

Use the code and download now for 2 free rides.

This pilot microtransit on demand corner-to-corner shared vanpool service is long overdue.

Let’s make it work, Birmingham. First step: Download the app today. Second step: Start using the service come December 3.

Sponsored by:

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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