The world has changed a lot over the last 40 years, but some things remain the same. People still need mobility to live independent, healthy, and fulfilling lives. Providing caring, customer-focused transportation to those with limited mobility has been Via’s mission since it was founded 40 years ago in 1979.
In those 40 years, Via’s buses have provided over 3.5 million trips! How did we do that? With the support and generosity of people like you. Neighbors helping neighbors is a value that endures, no matter what’s happening in the world.
Via provides about 100,000 door-to-door trips a year in wheelchair-accessible vehicles to older adults, people with disabilities, and others with limited mobility. 85% of those trips are for residents of Boulder County.
Across the county, the population is aging. By 2030, it’s expected that 24% of Boulder County’s residents will be age 60 and above. This demographic shift will have profound impacts on our society. Via could simply continue to provide about 100,000 trips a year while more and more people are unable to schedule rides. Instead, we’re seeking to increase our service capacity so we can reach more people who need mobility.
What does Via’s commitment to increasing our capacity mean in practical terms?
- First, Via is seeking ways to be more efficient with the resources we have. That will reduce the costs of providing transportation, and thus allow us to serve more people.
- Second, we’re exploring new technologies for making our operations more efficient. To do that, we’ve tapped into the extraordinary wealth of technology expertise found in Colorado. We’ve partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which is a research lab of the U.S. Department of Energy; the University of Colorado Boulder; and several for-profit technology companies.
- Third, we’ve reached out to local governments and regional organizations to coordinate and partner with them so that we use our collective resources more efficiently. Together we’re working to offer more convenient and environmentally and financially sustainable transit solutions. Via is striving to truly be a community transit agency committed to providing affordable and accessible mobility for all.
- Fourth, Via is increasing the number of contracts we enter under our social enterprise business model. As a nonprofit, we can enter transportation contracts that generate net revenues, provided we apply those revenues to our mission services. This is how we subsidize the $46 cost per one-way trip for those with low mobility. For example, Via has operated the HOP bus route for the City of Boulder since it first launched, and applied the net revenues from that contract to our mission services. By increasing the number of contracts, we’re not as reliant on a few, large contracts.
- And fifth, we’re listening to the community. Over the last year, we’ve held town hall meetings in Estes Park, Boulder, Longmont, and Lafayette/Louisville to hear from our riders and others about our services, their needs, and suggestions for the future. Those meetings have been valuable to me, and I will continue to visit the places we serve to hear from people like you. I heard some great ideas for improving what we do, but I also heard again and again how important our drivers and their caring service are to our riders. That caring service is now and will always be the heart of Via’s mission.
My involvement with Via began years before I became CEO when I was on its Board of Directors. Back then, I quickly learned that most of the people I met in this community knew someone who used Via’s services or they used it themselves. I’m grateful for the financial support that we’ve received from neighbors helping neighbors.
When you support our mission services with your gift, you’re investing in thousands of people who need transportation to get to jobs and access healthcare, groceries, and social activities. By helping us prepare to serve a growing older population, you’re also investing in the future.
Frank Bruno, Chief Executive Officer