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This article has been updated.

On-demand trip options are growing for San Antonians on the move, with a third VIA Link zone now open in Northwest San Antonio.

VIA Metropolitan Transit is expanding on-demand service zones to move more people more efficiently and keep them connected to more opportunities.

VIA Link replaces fixed routes with transit-on-demand, offering more frequent service for the same fares as regular bus service. Customers can book trips using a free app, online portal, or by phone. They’re usually picked up within 20 minutes of booking — an improvement from current wait times on bus service in these zones — and can track and rate their rides.

VIA introduced on-demand service in 2019, with its first VIA Link zone in Northeast San Antonio. A second zone opened in September 2021, connecting Sandy Oaks to Brooks with VIA Link Express service.

A third zone on the Northwest Side began operating in October and covers 14.4 square miles along Loop 1604, from Babcock to Culebra roads, and on Bandera Road from Loop 1604 to Mainland, connecting the University of Texas at San Antonio’s main campus, Northwest Vista College, and the surrounding area.

VIA Link Northwest is adding transit coverage in places where buses could not easily go with a network of “virtual stops” that are making transit accessible, including expanding into more neighborhoods.

VIA Link customers can use the service to reach destinations within the service zone — such as work or school, medical appointments, shopping, recreation and more — or connect to the full VIA system at convenient transfer points to travel outside the zone.

Five more VIA Link zones are planned, bringing the total to eight in 2022, as part of the voter-approved Keep SA Moving plan.

“VIA Link provides more and better trip options for customers to stay connected to opportunities in the zone and throughout the service area,” VIA President and CEO Jeffrey C. Arndt said. “Expanding VIA Link service to three zones in 2021 moves us closer to fulfilling the goals outlined in the Keep SA Moving plan and the community’s vision for a more mobile future.”

VIA Link will replace fixed routes 605 and 660 in the Northwest Zone. Bus service will continue for at least two months to allow customers to transition to VIA Link service. VIAtrans service will not be affected.

VIA Link customers find that they experience more flexibility, better frequency, decreased travel time, minimized walking distances and increased pick-up and drop-off locations. VIA Link vans are wheelchair accessible and customers can also request vehicles equipped with bicycle racks when booking a ride.

In the Northwest Zone, VIA Link service is available from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., seven days a week. Customers can pay using the VIA goMobile+ app, a VIA transit pass, or cash. Students may use their U-Pass to ride VIA Link fare-free. Reduced fares for seniors, children, military, and others also apply to VIA Link.

“In the November 2020 election, San Antonians said they wanted more and better mobility, with innovation at the heart,” said Jon Gary Herrera, VIA’s Senior Vice President for Public Engagement. “While public transit options using traditional buses are still a core element of VIA’s service, we’re evolving with our region and ensuring that the totality of VIA’s services align with the needs and demands of our current and future customers.”

With tremendous growth expected in the region over coming decades, VIA is taking action now to build a system of the future, Herrera said. In addition to traditional bus service, VIA Link, and VIAtrans, which offers transportation to people with disabilities, VIA is operating new high-occupancy vehicle lanes in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation and is designing a new Advanced Rapid Transit network.

“Mobility options that are frequent, reliable, and affordable are fundamental to ensuring the opportunities being created by the region’s rapid growth are accessible to all,” Arndt said. “Expanding our service options means you can depend on VIA to get you where you need to go, when you need to be there, with more options that work for you.”

For more information about VIA Link, visit VIAinfo.net/link or call VIA’s Customer Information line at (210) 362-2020.

VIA Metropolitan Transit

VIA provides safe, reliable transportation options that put opportunity within reach for millions of passengers each year. VIA serves 14 member cities and the unincorporated areas of Bexar County, operating...