Via is a city transit app that has been operating in New York City for the past 18 months. This seat-hailing app allows you to connect up with multiple passengers all headed in the same direction, sharing a spot in a chauffeured, premium van or SUV. It’s much nicer and more convenient than the bus or subway, but it’s also way cheaper than Uber or Lyft at just $5 (or $7 if not prepaid).
Here’s how it works. Passengers request rides through the Via app, and the service’s systems instantly select and, if necessary, reroute the vehicle that best matches where the passenger wants to go. Your ride shows up and takes you to your destination, and you only pay $5, if you’ve used Via’s Ride Credit feature from the app. If you’re not ready to buy Ride Credits, you can pay $7 per-ride plus tax. Via targets the gap between outdated public transit and expensive luxury car services, allowing you to ride in style while still saving money and reducing your carbon footprint.
Via was first launched in New York City in September, 2013, and the app currently provides New Yorkers with tens of thousands of rides per week. All told, Via has provided more than 300,000 shared rides for 40,000 members. All of the drivers, and there are more than 500 drivers, are professionally-licensed and drive premium vans or SUVs. Currently, the service operates between 32nd and 110th Streets in Manhattan, but it is expanding rapidly.
On April 2, Via closed a round of Series B funding totalling $27 million to help accelerate the growth of its unique transit system. Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, co-founders of Via, say, “Our goal is to transform public transit from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network.”
Via will be breaking into new markets soon, using the Series B funding to launch its service in other cities. The Via app is free to download on the App Store.