- Ride-sharing app Via announced the launch of its new service, ViaVan, in central London. The service is the result of a partnership with car company Mercedes Benz.
- Through the app, riders are matched in real time with people heading in the same direction in a chauffeured vehicle, which the company said will reduce carbon emissions and congestion, as well as provide an inexpensive trip.
- In its announcement of the launch, Via said it provides Londoners a "much-needed alternative" to Uber, which was banned from the city last year. "Londoners deserve innovative transportation solutions that are safe, convenient, and affordable," Chris Snyder, CEO of ViaVan, said in a statement.
This new arrival represents a major change from Uber, which lost its license from Transport for London (TfL) due to what the organization called in its press release a "lack of corporate responsibility." And Via officials looked to emphasize that their service is much more in keeping with London’s desires for fairness and regulation. "ViaVan is a different kind of company: we have social responsibility built into our DNA," Snyder said. "Our mission is to power truly dynamic mass transit systems, which reduce congestion in our cities while offering drivers the opportunity to earn a decent living."
While Uber’s ban is still under appeal, Via may have to be careful in the city too, based on recent news reports from Washington, DC. According to The Washington Post, the company has caught some criticism for only serving some neighborhoods, and none in the city’s traditionally low-income areas east of the Anacostia River.
Its cheap ride offerings, already available in West Sacramento, CA and Arlington, TX, could certainly appeal to Londoners looking for an alternative transportation option. And organizers clearly hope it will help the city in its quest to have no traffic emissions by 2050.