Rideshare company Via announced Monday that it would be bringing its own version of ridesharing into the Brooklyn market, or at least into Williamsburg. The company, born in Tel Aviv, and popular in Manhattan is a bit like UberPool. But unlike UberPool, riders walk to specific corners to be picked up, joining other riders in a large SUV. The New York Times likened the service to “taking a luxury bus.”
Another unique feature is that Via has flat, fixed rates, unlike Uber, which has up-to-the-minute dynamic rates. Within Williamsburg, Via trips will cost $5. Between Williamsburg and lower Manhattan it’s $7.95; trips above 23rd Street are $11.95.
The company was started by two entrepreneurs from Israel, Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval. According to Crunchbase, Via has received over $130 million in funding, $100 million of which came this summer.
— Via (@ridewithvia) October 31, 2016
The idea of a luxury bus for $5 or $8 dollars brings to mind a very good essay written by Matt Buchanan in The Awl last year. Via certainly seems to be another option to make our lives more convenient, but what about regular, mass transportation? If the middle class begins to shun it altogether, where will the incentive be for politicians to make sure it doesn’t crumble away?
In a different article from the Times, Ramot brought up the mass transit issue.
“We’re trying to build a mass-transit system,” Daniel Ramot, the start-up’s co-founder, said in an interview. “Via is the only system designed from the ground up to allow for a fully dynamic public transportation system.”