What is BFT Connect?
BFT Connect is an on-demand, dynamically routed, mobile-app powered shuttle service in partnership with Ben Franklin Transit. The service is open to all residents, workers, and visitors in the Tri-Cities, and will get you from Point A to Point B. Riders can request pickups and dropoffs anywhere in the service area. One end of each trip must begin or terminate at a Transit Center in the designated zone the ride is booked in. Using the Via app for iPhone or Android, you can select your pick up and drop off, and we’ll do the rest. You can also call 509-204-4189 and a member of our team can book a ride on your behalf.
When and where does BFT Connect operate?
Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm
The service zone is illustrated in the map below:
Who is driving my BFT Connect ride?
You are our most precious cargo, and we take safety very seriously. When you book a ride, we connect you with a vehicle operated by a trained and experienced driver who is covered by the required insurance. All driver partners undergo thorough background checks before driving on the BFT Connect platform.
But the necessary insurance and licensing are no-brainers. We expect more! We want all BFT Connect drivers to be downright amazing, so don’t forget to leave feedback for your driver after each ride – you’ll help us make sure only the best drivers get to drive for BFT Connect.
What platform(s) is the app available on?
Download the Via app to access BFT Connect. The Via app is available for both iPhone and Android. It’s free to download, so get riding today!
How many people will I share with?
The number of passengers you will share a ride with varies depending on who’s headed in the same direction at the same time and the make and model of the vehicle picking you up! Capacities range up to 6 passengers.
All rides are currently private. You can request a seat for one additional person on your ride.
Do I qualify for the service?
BFT Connect is open to all residents, commuters, and students in the Tri-Cities. Children under the age of 13 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to ride with BFT Connect. Minors between the ages of 13 and 18 can have their own member accounts and ride with BFT Connect unaccompanied, but they must have consent from their parent or guardian.
Do I qualify for a discount?
If you refer a friend, you will receive $6 in ride credit (2 free rides) once your friend takes their first ride!
How do I get the app?
How do I create a Via account?
If this is your first time using the app, you'll need to press "Sign Up" and create an account before you can log in and book a ride.
Step One: Click on the "Sign Up" button on the home screen of the app.
Step Two: Enter the requested information on the first page of this screen. You can even add a photo if you like!
Step Three: Click Next to move to the second page. Select your billing method.
Currently, all rides are free!
If you have a promo code, tap Via in the top left corner
Tap “Promo Codes”
Tap where the screen says "Enter your code here" and type in your activation code.
If you do not have a smartphone, please call 509-204-4189 and one of our member service representatives can help.
How do I book a ride?
Download the free Via app (available on iPhone and Android), sign up for Via, and book a ride to or from one of 14 BFT Transit Connections in a few super easy steps. From these Transit Connections, riders can transfer to or from the BFT bus network to reach where they are going. All rides must either begin or terminate at a designated Transit Connection in the same zone the ride is booked in.
STEP 1A [To a Designated Transfer Center]: Move the map until the blue marker is at your desired pickup location, or enter your pickup and press "Confirm my Location." You can also manually type your address in the search bar and select the correct one from the drop down.
STEP 1B [From a Designated Transfer Center]: Move the map until the blue marker is at your desired pickup location at a Designated Transfer Center and press "Confirm my Location."
STEP 2: Confirm that you’re booking for the correct number of passengers. With BFT Connect, you can currently book 2 passengers in one ride booking. If you need to increase the passenger count, you can hit the + button to add an additional passenger or the - button to subtract.
STEP 3A [To a Designated Transfer Center]: Move the map until the orange marker is at your desired Designated Transfer Center in the same zone and press "Set My Destination." We will check for available vehicles and connect you with the best vehicle for your ride.
STEP 3B [From a Designated Transfer Center]: Move the map until the orange marker is at your desired drop-off location in the same zone and press "Set My Destination." You can also manually type your address in the search bar and select the correct one from the drop down. We will check for available vehicles and connect you with the best vehicle for your ride.
STEP 4: Review the ride offer in the proposal screen (you may receive several proposals with different ETAs). Select the one that works best for you and press "Book This Ride." All the details, including exact pick up location and information on the car picking you up, will then be displayed.
Don't have a smartphone? Call BFT Connect live support at 509-204-4189 to book a ride over the phone. Please be prepared to provide the phone number tied to your account, your pick up address, and your drop off address.
What are the points of interest in the app?
Every ride must originate or end at one of the pre-populated, designated BFT Transit Center or Essential Service Location. Select them to easily choose where you need to go to or from!
Where do I wait for my ride?
After you book a ride, the app will display the pickup location where the vehicle will meet you. BFT Connect is a corner-to-corner service, so we’ll pick you up and drop you off at a nearby corner! When arriving or departing a designated BFT Transit Center, look for the sign that indicates your pickup or drop off location. Each designated BFT Transit Center will have an easy to find location
Make sure you’re at the pickup spot when the vehicle arrives! The app will count down the minutes to your vehicle’s arrival, and we’ll send you a text when the vehicle is two minutes away and again when it arrives. For assistance, you can reply to that text or call our Live Support team at 509-204-4189 - we can always help! Additionally, you can contact the driver partner at any time directly through the app by pressing the small blue phone icon located on the right, at the bottom of the screen. Your phone number will always be masked before you are connected with the driver.
Remember: BFT Connect is a community, and you’re sharing your ride with other members. Keeping them waiting results in delays for the whole community, and if you’re more than 2 minutes late, the vehicle will have to leave. It’s the only way we can move everyone so quickly at such an incredible price.
Want to track your vehicle while you wait? In the app, zoom out from your pickup spot or click the small compass icon in the bottom right, and you’ll be able to follow the vehicle on the map as it approaches.
How do I know when my vehicle will arrive?
After you set your Pickup and Dropoff in the app, we'll give you an estimated time until your vehicle arrives. When your car is 2 minutes away, we'll send you a text message to let you know that your ride is getting close. When your ride arrives, we'll send you another text to let you know!
How much does a ride cost?
All rides are currently free to help the Tri-Cities community reach essential services & designated Transit Connections.
Can I bring my friends and family with me in a BFT Connect vehicle?
For the safety of you and drivers, BFT Connect vehicles can accommodate up to 2 passengers at a time. To add an additional person to your ride, simply press the + and - signs using your pick up pin.
My driver was great! How can I thank them?
Our driver partners are the butter to our bread. Simply put, they’re the best! If you had a great experience with a driver, please let us know by filling out the feedback screen after your ride.
How do I retrieve something left in a vehicle?
We’ve all been there, and we feel for ya! As soon as you realize an item is missing, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll put you in touch with your driver to track it down!
Why is my place-pin in the middle of the ocean?
We’re not quite ready to pilot BFT Connect’s shared submarine service, so your map definitely shouldn’t be defaulting to a strange location. Please make sure that Location Services are enabled for the Via app on your phone (Settings - Privacy - Location Services), and that should bring you back to dry land STAT!
Can I change my destination once I’m in the car?
We get it - mistakes happen, plans change, and sometimes the destination where you booked to is no longer the destination you need to get to.
While we aim to please on every ride, in the event that a change would delay another passenger in the car or awaiting pick up, we can't accommodate requests for changes to drop-offs. You can always shoot us a text or call us mid-ride at 509-204-4189, and we'll certainly try our best to accommodate your situation. If you haven't gotten on board yet, just cancel the ride and re-book with the new destination!
Where can I see my past rides and purchases?
You can view any past rides and purchases right in your app under "Menu" - "History."
My driver left without me!
Oh no - we're sorry we didn't get you on board!
If you were marked as a "No Show" and you still need a ride, please re-book directly in your app or over the phone with our Live Support Team, and send an email so we can look into what went wrong.
If your app is indicating that you were picked up, please text our Live Support Team directly by replying to any message we have sent you, so we can cancel that ride and make sure you are able to re-book. You can also call us directly if you do not have SMS and we can help sort the situation out STAT!
Can I ride with my pet?
Service animals must always be welcome to ride without restriction. Driver partners have a legal obligation to provide service to riders with service animals. If you are a rider traveling with a service animal and wish to report a service animal issue, please contact Via support.
Riders traveling with pets that are not service animals should keep their pets in an airline-approved carrier to use the service.
Can my child ride in BFT Connect vehicle?
Children are welcome in BFT Connect vehicles! We strongly encourage all parents to bring a car seat or booster seat where appropriate. Please note that all children, regardless of age, must be marked as an additional passenger when booking your ride. This requirement is due to vehicle capacity restrictions based on number of passengers.
Can I smoke or use an electronic cigarette in my vehicle?
Smoking of any kind is prohibited in your vehicle. This includes e-cigarettes, vaporizers, or "smokeless" cigarettes.
Can I eat in the vehicle?
We know that you are folks on the go, but please help us keep our vehicles clean and fresh and avoid bringing food and drink in our cars.
If spills occur, we'll have to charge you a cleaning fee!
I was charged a cleaning/damage fee - what is this?
Our driver partners work hard to maintain their vehicles and take pride in their upkeep and cleanliness. In the event that the interior or exterior of the vehicle is damaged or dirtied as a result of intentional or negligent acts such as aggressive slamming of doors, vomiting, or pet accidents, a fee may be assessed and charged when applicable.
The exact amount charged will depend on the extent of the damage, up to $250. BFT Connect will always notify members when such a charge is necessary.
Can I use my phone while in a BFT Connect vehicle?
Please be considerate of other members in your vehicle and limit phone calls to quick logistics and emergencies during shared rides.