A new VTA service, FLEX, will debut in a pilot program on January 11, 2016 in a select area of Santa Clara County, specifically Northern San Jose. FLEX is an “On-Demand” connection service between regular transit stops and high-density employment centers and/or retail centers that according to VTA “prioritizes your valuable time by minimizing wait times.”

According to their press information, FLEX “provides better access to transit by shortening or eliminating the distance that you have to walk to a bus or light rail stop.”

In essence it takes some tech features of ride popular sharing services Uber and Lyft but is very different in its execution of the service.

The technology behind the FLEX system automatically routes vehicles to pick up nearby customers along a similar travel route without impacting travel times.

Uber and Lyft have a “carpool” feature which allows two or more customers to travel within the same vehicle if their destination is in the same area.

By using its own app VTA’s FLEX will allow users to request a pick up at certain transit stops, unlike Uber and Lyft which has the ability to be picked up virtually anywhere there is a driver nearby.

FLEX’s service area is approximately 3.25 square miles in North San Jose, which surrounds VTA’s Tasman Light Rail Station.

The boundaries are:

North – Route 237

South – Montague Expressway

East – Coyote Creek

West – Guadalupe River

FLEX will, for the moment, test out the flat fees of single rides for $2 and $3 for peak hours. The times of service, unlike the 24/7 of the other ride share apps, is  Monday – Friday; 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Peak Hours 5:30 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.; 3:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. The last Flex ride MUST be completed by 8:30 p.m.

The service goes live this upcoming January 11th, but is as of writing available to download Friday January 8th through the VTA website, VTA.org.

It is unknown yet whether payments must be made through the app only, but is noted that “other riders that have similar travel destinations may be picked up and dropped off during the course of your ride.”

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