You’ll have to say goodbye to Via’s personal on-demand rides. Bloomberg reports that after December 20, Via will shut down its ride-hailing operations, currently in New York and Washington, DC. After that, the company will shift its focus to public transport systems such as buses, shuttles and vans. You can still use Via to arrange pick-ups (including for paratransit) or check timetables, but you won’t have much more control and will likely share the vehicle.
The company does not shy away from its reasoning: its public transport activities are more successful. Through chief Daniel Ramot, Bloomberg told Bloomberg that his company’s transit business is “growing rapidly,” and that it is a more reliable revenue stream thanks to long-term contracts. Via would have required a “major investment” to return its ride-hailing business to pre-pandemic levels, and the company didn’t want to incur those costs when transportation was thriving.
Via’s challenges are in stark contrast to its ridesharing rivals. Lyft and Uber struggle to find drivers as demand picks up again. However, they have much bigger stretches of personal ride than Via. Even if Via remained committed to personal rides, it would compete with two clear incumbents for a small share of a market. The discontinuation of ride-hailing allows it to bypass that battle entirely and corner a segment that Lyft and Uber have left largely untouched.
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