West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon announced the debut of a new on-demand ridesharing service on Monday.
"Today, we launched kind of the love child between Uber and Lyft style ride-share plus public transit," Cabaldon said.
The mayor claims that the program will be the first of its kind of any city in the country. "We've got 10 Mercedes vans that are roaming the streets of the city and folks in the community can hail a ride via smartphone or by phone call, on demand," he explained.
The city has launched a yearlong pilot program with the New York-based ride-hailing company Via thanks to grants from CalTrans and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.
Cabaldon says the goal is to reduce congestion, help clean up the air and save money on gas and parking.
He says another reason West Sacramento launched the program is because traditional bus service in in the city doesn't do well outside of high-density, urban corridors.
"Sending a 45-person bus snaking through the suburban parts of our city, or even some of the older neighborhoods of the city, doesn't pan out," he said, adding that residents have to wait long times for a bus to arrive, walk far to stops, and talk longer journeys "because it's snaking all over the place."
Rides inside the city start at $3.50, or $1.75 for seniors.
"We're able to achieve these lower fares, compared to an Uber or Lyft ride, because it's a system rather than trying to connect private drivers to private rides," Cabaldon explains. "Also we're using 10 Mercedes vans that Via owns - they are employees of Via that are doing the driving. But the grant helps to keep that cost down."
Most riders will be picked up within 500 feet of their starting point. The Mercedes-Benz vans can carry six-passengers.
People can book rides by calling (916) 318-5101 or by using the Via app.