CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Charlottesville Area Transit is launching a new on-demand service in Albemarle County.

CAT announced on Thursday that Via has been selected as the TransitTech software and operations provider for a microtransit pilot program.

According to a release, the new “MicroCAT” service will be an app-based program offering on-demand rides using technology to expand access to flexible and sustainable transportation.

CAT says this will be an extension of its existing fixed-route bus service, providing coverage in Pantops and along Route 29 North, both of which have been identified as areas of high need for increased mobility access.

"The selection of a vendor for microtransit service marks a major milestone in our ongoing efforts to improve transportation options for the people who live and work in Albemarle County,” said Donna Price, chair of the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors. “This innovative service will bridge the gaps in our current transit system, providing convenient and efficient mobility solutions to our community. We are excited to see this service come to fruition."

Microtransit services work to expand transportation access in areas buses cannot easily reach, which may be called transit deserts.

Riders are able to book a trip and be matched with others heading in the same direction in shared vehicles.

The release says users will typically be directed to a nearby “virtual bus stop” for pickup and drop off.

This aims to provide a transit option combining the affordability of bus service with the convenience of a private vehicle.

The fleet of vehicles will include hybrid electric vehicles, and wheelchair-accessible vehicles will be available on request.

The release says this initiative is similar to other transit initiatives across Virginia and the country.

Via already operates programs in Alexandria, Williamsburg, Gloucester, Richmond County, Hampton Roads, Roanoke County and Wise County.

The release says this microtransit service is being made possible by a $1.5 million Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation grant to CAT and matching funding from Albemarle County.