If you live in a city like New York there are a few ways to get around town, but some make more sense than others: hop a subway, take a cab, walk/run, bike it Casey Neistat style, drive your own car (not the best idea) or use a service like Uber. Well there’s a new option in town and it’s pretty freakin awesome. It’s called Via and it’s a ride sharing service that will get you from A to Z in a luxury vehicle (with just a 5 minute average wait time). All this for just $5 a ride.
Here’s some additional background from Via’s co-founder and CEO Daniel Ramot (who previously built supercomputers designed to discover new pharmaceutical drugs and developed avionic systems for F-15s and F-16s for the Israeli Air Force):
Via is re-engineering public transit, from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. Via’s mobile app connects multiple passengers who are headed the same way, allowing riders to seamlessly share a premium vehicle. First launched in New York City in September 2013, Via currently provides affordable, convenient, and environmentally-friendly shared rides to tens of thousands of New Yorkers.
If you think Via sounds like a bit of a yawn because there are already other ride sharing/hailing apps out there—you’re wrong. Here’s why:
- Via targets the public transit market, whereas other ride-hailing apps target the taxi/limousine market.
- Part of what makes Via unique is that the platform is built from the ground up for sharing by multiple passengers. The entire experience (e.g. the type of vehicle, pickups/dropoffs at the corner) and the technology are designed to provide a better bus experience.
- Via is the only mass transit solution that utilizes fully-dynamic routing.
Via is unique in the mobile hailed ride space as it is a true shared economy. Riders contribute to Via’s efficiency in small ways by walking to the nearest corner (when needed), being on time for pick-up and creating a friendly, respectful ride environment that’s rare on today’s public transit lines. “We’ve heard some particularly great stories about members heading to the same meeting ending up in the same Via and being able to get started while still on the way to the office,” says Daniel.
If you want a bottom-line summary of Via in one sentence, here’s all you need to know: Ultimately, Via’s aim is to fill the gap between outdated public transit systems and expensive luxury car services.
I asked Daniel what one metric he was most excited about and his answer was pretty cool. He said that over 90% of Via’s current members have come from word-of-mouth referrals! That’s pretty outstanding—a product so good it almost doesn’t even need a traditional ad campaign. “We think the fact that people enjoy the Via experience so much that they can’t wait to tell their friends, speaks to the quality of the service and of our customer support,” says Daniel. “It’s enabled us to build an incredibly passionate member base who are invested in helping us to grow and succeed.”
But Via is making a real difference in people’s lives, as Daniel explains:
We just received a note from a family who had given birth to twins a few weeks premature. They wrote in to share that Via had been a lifesaver for them these past few weeks in helping them get to the hospital to visit their babies, and that the affordable rates were a lifesaver with the expense of two newborns. One of the things we hear most often (and we never get sick of) are the ways in which we’ve helped people traveling on routes underserved by existing transit find an efficient and affordable way to get where they need to go.
Categorically there are some important trendsetters using the service including UN diplomats to CEOs.
If you don’t live in NYC don’t worry; it may not be long before Via comes to a city near you as the team is currently focused on expanding; first throughout Manhattan and then in additional markets. Via will also be partnering with public transit authorities in smaller cities to allow them to provide a better transit solution to their residents by using their technology to compliment their existing service.