The launch of an on-demand, low-cost shuttle service in Buckhead won’t happen until sometime in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The existing fixed-route “Buc” shuttle service will continue in the meantime.

The new, Uber-style version the “Buc” was to launch April 1 in a joint effort of the nonprofit Livable Buckhead and the Buckhead Community Improvement District.

A Via-operated on-demand shuttle van in Arlington, Texas, as shown in a promotional video.

The new Buc shuttle would be operated by a company called Via. It would consist of a fleet of six free-roaming vans that would take people anywhere in the general areas of the central business district, Buckhead Village and the Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza malls. The fare would be $3 a ride – and free for any trip to or from a MARTA station, according to Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling.

As the pandemic began, the launch was delayed indefinitely, with hopes of making it happen this summer.

But Livable Buckhead now says the demand is not there yet and the launch is delayed until sometime next year.

“We are beginning to see some recovery in the number of people returning to the office and taking transit, but we’re still a long way from the levels we had when we decided to launch the Buc powered by Via,” said Starling in a press release. “Buckhead commuters are the ridership base for this service, so we need to peg its launch to their return to work and to normal commute patterns. That doesn’t seem likely for 2020, so we are looking to 2021.”

“We think there is still a tremendous opportunity for a microtransit service like what was planned, but the time just isn’t right for it now,” said Jim Durrett, executive director of the Buckhead CID, in the release.

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John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.