Editorial: UTA should contribute to Arlington's Via partnership

Transportation, or the lack thereof, is a big deal for Arlington residents.

That’s why the city’s shelling out almost $1 million to expand the Via Rideshare program through its second year. The plan is expected to reach an additional 11,000 residents and generate 2,000 jobs, according to a November 2018 Shorthorn article.

The service is contracted through the city and operates similarly to Uber or Lyft. Users request rides in one of the many vans scattered throughout the city.

With more than 80,000 rides taken since its December 2017 launch, it’s clear the service is making an impact in the community.

But for all its growth, Via is still not where it should be. Persistent coverage gaps still exist, and expansion is a rather pricey ordeal.

To continue growing, the rideshare service needs money and that’s where UTA should step in.

City manager Trey Yelverton said during a Nov. 14 Shorthorn editorial board meeting that the city is pursuing different partnerships to expand Via throughout Arlington.

The university hasn’t publicly contributed financially to a city-wide transportation system since contributing to the MAX bus project, which was scrapped in December of last year because of low ridership numbers.

According to data acquired by the city, about 50 percent of Via rides originate or conclude on campus.

That’s a lot of activity coming directly from UTA students. Aside from a brief four-month period in the middle of 2018, rides to or from the university constituted the vast majority of Via’s service requests in the city.

Although Via doesn’t solve all the transportation problems facing Arlington, it’s certainly a good first step, and it’s proven its value to the city and to the UTA community.

The time to invest is now.

Yelverton said the city would consider moving on to other projects — things like high-speed rails and high-occupancy vehicles — only after Via was expanded to the rest of the city.

We already know students are using the service. Now let’s give them some more options.

The Shorthorn Editorial Board is made up of Opinion Editor Shay Cohen, Editor-in-Chief Narda Perez, News Editor Samantha Douty, Life and Entertainment Editor Maxwell Hilliard, Copy Desk Chief Caitlin Sherrill, Sports Reporter Dallas Johnson and News Reporter Jacob Reyes.

Johnson and Reyes were not present for this editorial meeting.

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