Via Rideshare: Get Shared Rides for Less

When you think of rideshare services, you probably think of Uber and Lyft. While they are the two major players in the industry (having acquired or driven out of business quite a few competitors over the years), there are still other ridesharing options out there. These alternatives to Lyft and Uber tend to be smaller and more localized in their reach, but they can be just as useful (not to mention cheaper).

One such rideshare service is Via. Launched in 2014 by entrepreneurs Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, Via is a company that promises “smarter shared rides.” But does the company deliver on that promise? Is Via a viable alternative to Uber and Lyft? In this article, we’re going to take a look, examining how Via works, where it’s available, and what it costs.

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What Is Via Rideshare?

Via Rideshare: Get Shared Rides for Less

If you’ve used Uber or Lyft, then the experience of using Via will feel familiar. To get a ride, all you have to do is open the app, enter your dropoff and pickup points, and then wait for Via to match you with a ride. The average wait time is 5 minutes, and Via will give you an estimate of your pickup time before booking. You’ll also be able to track your vehicle’s location while you wait for it to arrive.

So what makes Via different from Uber and Lyft? The main difference is that the company focuses exclusively on shared rides with multiple passengers. Uber and Lyft do offer these sorts of services through UberPOOL and Shared Lyft rides, but it’s not the sole focus of their services. Also, Via charges a flat, guaranteed rate for their service, while the shared Uber and Lyft rides have fares that can vary.

The other main difference is the way that Via picks you up. While Uber and Lyft drivers come directly to your location and drop you off at your precise destination, Via works a little differently. Via is a “corner to corner” service, which means that your driver will pick you up at a corner that’s close to your location and drop you off at a corner near your destination. In this way, Via functions more like a public transit service, and it’s one major reason that it’s cheaper than Uber or Lyft (on average).

How to Book Your First Via Ride

Now that you have a general understanding of how Via works, let’s take a look at how to book a ride. Before you can book a ride, you’ll need to download the Via app for iPhone or Android. After that, you’ll need to create an account, including the payment information you want to use. From there, just follow these steps to book a ride:

1. Open the app and set your pickup location

Via Rideshare: Get Shared Rides for Less - Pickup

Via will detect your location automatically, but you can move the blue pin or type in your address if you need to change the location that the app automatically detects. Once you’re satisfied with the location, tap “Set Pickup.”

2. Select your dropoff location

Via Rideshare: Get Shared Rides for Less - Dropoff

In the same way as you set your pickup location, you’ll now need to move the orange pin or type in an address to specify your dropoff location. Once the location is correct, tap “Set Dropoff” to confirm.

3. Review the ride offers and book

Via Rideshare: Get Shared Rides for Less

You’ll now see a list of the available routes to your destination. It’s possible that you’ll receive several different options with different ETAs. Select the one that’s best for you, and then tap “Book This Ride” to book.

You’ll then see the exact pickup location, which will be located on a nearby corner. Make sure to review this carefully, as it may not be your current location. If you aren’t at the pickup location within 60 seconds of your ride’s arrival, it will depart and you will be charged a no-show fee. This can be frustrating, but it’s one of the tradeoffs for getting an on-demand ride at a reduced price.

Where Is Via Available?

Via Rideshare: Get Shared Rides for Less - Locations

Before you try to book a Via ride, you should make sure that it’s available in your city. Via is more limited in its scope than Uber and Lyft. It’s currently available in the following locations:

  • New York City — Available 24/7, providing rides throughout the five boroughs of NYC, as well as to and from LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy, and Newark International Airports.
  • Chicago — Available 24/7, providing rides anywhere within the Chicago city zone (which runs from Rogers Park to South Shore and from Logan Square to the Lake), as well as to and from O’Hare and Midway Airports.
  • Washington, D.C. — Available 24/7 anywhere in the city.
  • Arlington, Texas — Available Monday–Friday from 6:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m.– 9:00 p.m.
  • West Sacramento, Calif. — Available Monday–Friday from 7:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.

However, the company continues to expand, having raised several hundred million dollars in funding over the past couple of years. Therefore, it’s possible that you could see Via in a city near you soon.

How Much Does Via Cost?

One of the biggest reasons to use Via instead of Uber or Lyft is the cost of the service. The cost varies based on your city, as well as the number of people in your party. Here’s a pricing structure breakdown for every city where Via operates:

1. New York City Pricing

  • Price varies based on distance and time of day, but it starts at $5 for shorter rides
  • Additional charges for every +1 in your party
  • $3 for cancellations and no shows

2. Chicago Pricing

  • Price varies based on distance and time of day, but it starts at $3.95 for shorter rides
  • Additional charges for every +1 in your party
  • $3 for cancellations and no shows

3. Washington, D.C. Pricing

  • Price varies based on distance and time of day
  • Additional charges for every +1 in your party
  • $2 for cancellations and no shows

4. Arlington, Texas Pricing

  • $3 flat rate per ride
  • $1 for every +1 in your party
  • $1.50 for cancellations and no shows
  • $1.75 for seniors (62+) and people with disabilities

5. West Sacramento, Calif. Pricing

  • $3.50 flat rate per ride
  • $1 for every +1 in your party
  • $1.50 for cancellations and no shows
  • $1.75 for seniors (62+) and people with disabilities

Throughout all the markets where Via operates, you can pay using debit cards, credit cards, and your commuter benefits (for participating providers). Via does not accept cash, though you’re welcome to use a prepaid debit card to fund your account.

You can also get free ride credit when you refer friends to Via. Just send them your unique promo code, which you can find in the “Free Rides” section of the app. When your friend signs up with your code, they’ll start off with $10 of Ride Credit. You’ll also get $10 of credit once they take their first ride.

How Can I Drive for Via?

Driving for Via can be a good opportunity to earn some extra money. The requirements to drive for the company will vary based on your city. In NYC, for instance, you’ll need to be licensed to drive through the TLC (Taxi and Limousine Commission). However, Via can assist you with this process, so feel free to apply even if you don’t already have the TLC license.

You’ll also need to pass a background check, just as you would when driving for Uber or Lyft. You may need to pass a vehicle inspection in some markets (such as Chicago). If you don’t have a vehicle, then Via can help you rent one to drive for their service. You’ll have to cover the rental costs yourself, however, so be sure to do the math beforehand to see if it’s worth it based on what you’ll actually earn as a driver.

Speaking of earnings, how much can you make as a Via driver? The company is vague about this on their site, though they do claim to have “the lowest service fee in the industry by far.” This could be a welcome respite for Uber and Lyft drivers who are tired of getting hit with high service fees.

Get a Shared Ride without Breaking the Bank

We’re glad to see that options like Via are out there. Via provides a viable alternative to Uber and Lyft in the cities where they operate. Furthermore, its very existence means that Uber and Lyft can’t get too complacent in the services they offer, which benefits riders across platforms.

Happy riding!