ViaVan is a joint venture between mobility firm Via and Mercedes-Benz Vans. After receiving a permit to operate a one-year pilot program by Transport for London (TFL), riders will be able to use ViaVan’s app to hail one of the 14-passenger vans. The program will operate in a suburb with one of the highest rates of private-car usage in London and will have “virtual bus stops” and pick up and drop off passengers upon request.
ViaVan is already operating its shuttle service in another part of London but is aiming with this pilot program to demonstrate an alternative to private-car usage.
Via is also launching their shuttle service in Brazil in partnership with HP Transportes Coletivos (one of the country’s largest public transportation operators) making it the first on-demand shuttle service operated by a public transit operator to launch in South America .
The shuttle service will be named CityBus 2.0, and by using the app riders will be able to request a ride in 11 different districts around the city of Goiânia. When a rider places a request, the app calculates the distance and shows the fare. Payments can be done by using both a credit card or cash. Via allows cash transactions with some transit agency partners.
Only in the first week of the launch, 15,000 people have reportedly downloaded the CityBus 2.0 app.
We have seen several other shuttle services such as Bridj and Chariot launch and fail to create a sustainable business for themselves. In both cases, a lack of taking the time to gather an understanding about what customers value in a shuttle service has played a key role while industry experts claim that “there is no profit in micro transits”. What might be to Via’s benefit however could be the fact that data gathered in the pilot program could be used to tweak the service launched. Furthermore, they aim for this service to be more on demand, both in terms of where passengers want to go and when they want to go there, which is an important distinction from both Bridj and Chariot which operated with fixed routes and timetables.
Written by Mahdere DW Amanuel, RISE Viktoria.