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When you think of rideshare, you probably think of Uber and Lyft. These two rideshare companies dominate the industry, but they’re not the only players in the game. This is good news for passengers, as it offers the prospect of better prices, better service, or whatever else you think is missing from the big companies.
From a driver perspective, however, the existence of other rideshare companies is even more exciting, since it means additional opportunities to earn money (hopefully at higher rates). One such company that promises this to drivers is Via Transportation, Inc., usually just known as “Via.” The company aims to attract drivers with lower commissions, flexible compensation structures, and a streamlined pickup and drop-off system.
If this sounds exciting, then keep reading to learn everything you need to know about driving for Via, including driver requirements, pay, and how to apply.
- How Does Via Work?
- Via Driver Requirements
- Via Driver Application Process
- Via New Driver Bonus/Sign Up Bonus: Claim Yours Now
- Via Driver Salary: How Much Do Via Drivers Make?
- Via Driver App
- Via Driver Support
- Best Cities for Via
- Via Driver FAQ
How Does Via Work?
If you’re a Lyft driver or Uber driver partner, then you’ll already be familiar with the basic premise of Via. The company offers on-demand rides to passengers through a mobile app. Passengers use the app to schedule a pickup, can track their progress during the ride, and can use the app to see their drop off location. All payments occur through the app, meaning cash doesn’t have to change hands.
These are where the similarities end, however. The way Via accomplishes passenger transportation is much like UberPOOL or Lyft Shared (formerly Lyft Line) rides, with each vehicle holding multiple riders headed in the same direction and picking up additional passengers en route.
Via takes the concept even further, however, by functioning as a “corner-to-corner” service. This means that instead of drivers going to the passenger’s exact location, the passenger gets picked up at a corner one or two blocks from their location and dropped off at a nearby corner to their destination. In fact, if the passenger isn’t at the pickup location at the specified time, the driver will not wait for them (much like a bus doesn’t wait if no one is at a stop).
By setting up drop-off and pickup locations this way, Via prevents unnecessary detours and streamlines their service to work much like public transportation. Not only does this bring the cost down for riders, but it also means fewer miles on driver’s vehicles. This can mean significant savings in maintenance and depreciation over the long term.
Via Driver Requirements
Before you can drive for Via, you need to meet both their driver and vehicle requirements. These are not difficult, but failing to meet them will make you ineligible to drive for Via.
All Via drivers must meet the following requirements:
- Have a valid driver’s license
- At least one year of U.S. driving experience
- Pass a criminal background check
- Possess a TLC license (for drivers in New York City). Note that Via can help you with this process, so you can still apply even if you don’t have a TLC license
In addition to these driver requirements, Via also has vehicle requirements that you’ll need to meet:
- Pass a vehicle inspection (for drivers in Chicago)
- Have a vehicle that meets your city requirements:
- New York City — TLC-licensed vehicle of any color that has a leather interior
- Chicago — Model year 2010 or newer for non-luxury vehicles and model year 2005 or newer for luxury vehicles
- Washington, D.C. — Model year 2010 or newer with a private (i.e., non-government) license plate
- Have valid vehicle insurance and registration
As you can see, the requirements for Via are not that complicated. In fact, they can even be simpler than the requirements for Uber or Lyft in some cases.
Via Driver Application Process
If you’re interested in driving for Via, you’ll have to go through the company’s application process. In many ways, the process is similar to applying to drive for Uber or Lyft. While the details will vary based on your city, the basic process is as follows:
1. Visit the Via driver application page
You can access this page by clicking this link. Once on the page, you’ll see a screen like the following:
2. Fill out the application box
On the application page, you’ll see a box that says, “Sign Up.” In this box, select your city from the list, and then enter the following information:
- First name
- Last name
- Phone number
- Email address
This will not only start the application, but it will also create an account that you can use to check your application status, as well as resume your application if you need to take a break in the midst of it.
3. Answer a series of questions
Next, you’ll need to answer some questions to determine if you’re eligible to drive for Via. These include:
- How long have you been driving in the U.S.? (less than or more than a year?)
- What sort of vehicle will you be using for Via? (personal vehicle, taxi, or you don’t have a vehicle)
- Vehicle make, model, color, and year
- Vehicle license plate number
You’ll also need to consent to a background check and arrange for a vehicle inspection (if necessary). If you’re in NYC, you’ll need to answer some questions about your TLC license.
Assuming your answers to these questions satisfy Via’s requirements, they’ll process your application. They don’t say how long this generally takes, but given that the platform is still relatively small, it shouldn’t be long.
4. Upload the required documents
Once Via has approved the basics of your application, you’ll need to upload certain documents. This includes a copy of your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration. If in NYC, you’ll need to upload a copy of your TLC license.
You’ll also need to add your bank account and tax information so that Via can pay you (and verify that you can legally work in the U.S.).
5. Undergo a new driver orientation
Via is vague about the extent of this process, but new drivers presumably receive some sort of orientation and training before their first trip. We’ll provide you with more information on this as we can.
Via New Driver Bonus/Sign Up Bonus: Claim Yours Now
One great perk of driving for Via is the new driver sign up bonus that they offer. The details of the bonus vary based on your city. In Chicago, for instance, there’s an earnings guarantee of $1,000 if you complete 100 rides in your first 30 days.
In NYC, on the other hand, you can receive a signing bonus of up to $2,000. Finally, drivers in Washington, D.C. can receive “huge guaranteed fares” (fill out an application to see details).
Curious how to get free rides as a Via passenger? Check out our passenger guide to find out.
Via Driver Salary: How Much Do Via Drivers Make?
The potential earnings are a big reason that drivers are choosing Via over Uber or Lyft. The exact amount you can earn will vary based on your city and how much you drive. However, we do know that Via’s compensation structure differs from Uber and Lyft’s in a few key ways.
To start, Via rewards you for transporting multiple passengers at once. This is in contrast with Uber and Lyft’s shared rides, in which you tend to earn less overall as opposed to doing a regular Lyft or UberX ride. Because Via has structured their platform to work like public transit, it makes sense for them to reward drivers for carrying more than one passenger.
Another important difference is that Via has two earning modes that drivers can use. The first is Flex Mode, and it works basically the same as Uber and Lyft. Flex Mode drivers earn a rate based on distance and time of day. They also have the chance to take advantage of Rocket Pay. This is Via’s version of surge pricing, and it increases fares based on a multiplier that varies depending on how high current demand for rides is.
The other mode is called Blue Mode, and it’s what sets Via apart from Uber and Lyft. In Blue Mode, drivers earn a flat hourly rate while they have the Via Driver app activated. This is a key distinction compared to Uber and Lyft: You earn even if you’re waiting around for passengers and regardless of how many passengers you’re transporting. Getting paid an hourly rate can add some welcome stability that rideshare traditionally lacks. On the other hand, the flat rate precludes you from getting Rocket Mode fares, which could boost your overall hourly earnings.
You’ll have to experiment to decide which mode is best for you. Generally, Blue Mode makes more sense during times of steady demand (like rush hour), while Flex Mode is better for times when demand can fluctuate (after the bars close or after a big event, for instance).
Another key thing to note about Via earnings is that the company charges a lower commission than Uber or Lyft. In Chicago and D.C., they charge a 15 percent commission on all rides, while in NYC they charge a 10 percent commission for Blue Mode rides and a 20 percent commission for Flex Mode rides. In all cases, this is less than the fees that Uber and Lyft charge drivers (which are at least 25 percent and often more).
Finally, you should know that Via riders have the option to leave drivers a tip at the end of a ride. They’re not required to do this, but it does give you an extra incentive to provide the utmost in customer service.
Via Driver App
We’d like to include a bit about how the Via Driver App works. It’s simple to use, and it will be a familiar experience if you’ve used the Uber or Lyft driver apps. The app is available to download for Android and iOS. While you can download it at any time, you won’t be able to use it until Via has approved your application and received all the necessary documents.
Once you start driving, you’ll be able to see passenger requests pop up much like they would with Uber or Lyft. To accept a passenger request, simply tap “Accept.”
Once you’ve accepted the request, you’ll need to pick the passenger up. Note that, unlike Uber or Lyft, with Via you always drive in one direction and pick up passengers at corners. This makes the process much easier than other rideshare platforms. The app will give you directions to the passenger’s location, as well as landmarks to look for:
Once you’ve picked the passenger up, you’ll get directions on where to drop them off (and you may pick up other passengers on the way).
Via Driver Support
Besides the higher earning potential, Via offers a level of driver support that sets them apart from Uber and Lyft. All drivers get live support via phone or text for help with any ride issues. This level of real-time support just isn’t present in Uber and Lyft (and certainly not as accessible as Via makes it).
Of course, the fact that Via is a much smaller company helps with this, and there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to provide this level of support as they expand. For now, however, the support Via offers drivers is another reason to switch from Uber or Lyft.
Best Cities for Via
Before you get too excited about driving for Via, you need to be sure you’re in a city where they operate. In the United States, you can apply to drive for Via in the following cities:
- New York City
- Washington, D.C.
Additionally, Via is available in West Sacramento, CA, and Arlington, TX through partnerships with city governments. You can’t directly apply to drive for Via in these cities.
In Europe, Via also operates a service called ViaVan. It’s available in London and Berlin. You can learn more about it here.
From the perspective of service fees, it’s better to drive in Chicago and D.C. than NYC (assuming you’re doing Flex rides). The additional TLC licensing requirements also make it trickier to start driving for Via in NYC (though if you’re already an Uber or Lyft driver, you’ll have the necessary license).
Via Driver FAQ
To conclude this guide, let’s address some common questions about driving for Via.
1. Can I drive for Via at the same time as Uber and Lyft?
In the most literal sense, no. Because of the way Via works, you can’t simultaneously have the Uber and Lyft apps going. You are free to continue working for Uber and Lyft while also driving for Via.
You’re still an independent contractor, and Via has no control over what you do when you’re not online in their app. You’ll have to experiment to decide if it makes sense to do a mix of Uber, Lyft, and Via driving, or if you’d be better off just driving for Via.
2. Does Via offer benefits like health insurance or retirement?
No, they do not. Via drivers are still independent contractors, and this means that you’re responsible for saving for and filing your own taxes, as well as paying for your own expenses.
3. Can I drive for Via if I don’t own a car?
Yes, you can. The company has a vehicle leasing and rental program in partnership with a variety of other companies. They can work to help you find a vehicle to lease or rent and drive for the Via platform. You’ll have to decide if your potential earnings are worth paying the leasing or rental fees, but it’s an option worth exploring if you’d otherwise have no way to drive for Via.
4. Does Via have a driver referral program?
Yes, they do. You can earn a cash bonus when you refer new drivers to Via and they sign up for the platform using your referral link. The amount you can earn varies based on your city and is subject to change at any time.
Start Your Via Driving Adventure
We hope this guide has shown you that Via is a compelling alternative for rideshare drivers in a market where Uber and Lyft get most of the attention. While the company is still limited in its scope of operations, it shows no signs of slowing down. To get started driving for Via, visit their application page.
Brett Helling is the owner of Ridester.com. He has been a rideshare driver since early 2012, having completed hundreds of trips for companies including Uber, Lyft, and Postmates. In 2014 he acquired Ridester.com to share his experiences with other drivers. His insights are regularly quoted by publications such as Forbes, Vice, CNBC, and more. He is currently working on a book about working in the Gig Economy, expanding his skill set beyond the rideshare niche. Read more about Brett here.