Moving local communities toward transportation equity—through an unprecedented pandemic.
By Kate Jonuska
Since 1979, Via Mobility Services, a private nonprofit, has been helping people with mobility limitations access transportation to live more self-sufficient, independent and connected lives. Via Mobility believes that our community is stronger when everyone gets a chance to participate fully.
“In Boulder, a community where we have Olympic athletes training, it can be very easy to overlook the needs of someone who uses a wheelchair or a mobility device,” says Frank Bruno, Via’s CEO. He explains that lack of transportation doesn’t just mean people with mobility limitations can’t get to the doctor, the grocery store or other essentials.
“Those people should also have access to the Conference on World Affairs, concerts at Macky Auditorium, athletic events, concerts at Chautauqua and accessible trails—all the things we have to offer,” he says. “A person without transportation can’t serve on the city council or the school board or be on a board of directors. Via’s mission is to make that possible.”
In 2020, that transportation equity mission has become even more vital as COVID-19 further disrupts and disconnects our lives. Via has adapted by expanding, taking on new contracts and leaning into essential food deliveries from their partners, including Boulder County Farmers Market, Community Food Share, Boulder Public Health and Ollin Farms. Via has also made its paratransit entirely fare-free through the end of the year to help those struggling financially during the pandemic.
Though a nonprofit, Via generates revenue through earned-income contracts, including operating the HOP buses, Access-a-Ride and FlexRide for RTD. Via also operates shuttles serving Eldora Mountain Resort, Chautauqua and Eldorado State Park. With ridership on those income-earning operations down, however, Via hopes to increase donations (which usually make up less than five percent of their budget) to better serve our community through the pandemic—and continue operating fare-free past the end of the year, if possible.
“We expect to be strong in this market for years to come and want people to know we’re committed to operating effectively and efficiently, but we do need donations, too,” says Bruno. “The more help we can get, the more we can do.”
Via Mobility Services by the numbers
- Via’s paratransit program provided a total of 154,512 trips in 2019, including:
- 29,403 trips to adult day care programs
- 16,093 trips for medical or therapeutic purposes
- 13,967 trips to ensure access to food
- 13,305 trips to safe shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness
Via serves all of Boulder, Denver, Adams, Arapahoe and Jefferson counties as well as parts of Weld, Larimer and Broomfield counties.
Their paratransit fleet of 53 vehicles utilizes electric, hybrid electric, compressed natural gas, clean diesel and conventional gasoline as fuel sources.
For more information, visit viacolorado.org.