ViaVan, the joint venture between Via and Mercedes-Benz Vans, on March 5 announced the launch of its shared ride service in Amsterdam. This is the company’s first of several planned deployments in the European market. The Berlin opening, where the local public transport company BVG and ViaVan are teaming up, seems to have stalled, as no local licence has yet been issued.
Through the ViaVan app, a copy of the orginal Bridj-system pioneered three years ago in Boston and another copy called Chariot in San Francisco (the latter now owned by Ford), passengers will be seamlessly matched in real time with other riders headed their way, sharing their trip in a professionally-chauffeured vehicle. ViaVan will serve as an extension of the city’s existing public transit network, providing an affordable and convenient transportation alternative that reduces congestion and carbon emissions.
Rides within the central city zone will cost a flat rate of just €5. To celebrate the launch of the service, all rides within this zone will be just €2 for the first two weeks.
ViaVan claims to use the world’s most efficient on-demand transit platform, developed by Via initially for the New York City market, where today it provides more than 1.5 million shared rides per month. Via licenses its revolutionary technology to transportation players globally powering services across the world, from Australia to Texas. As an innovation-friendly city, that has embraced progressive, environmentally conscious options for getting around, Amsterdam posed a natural fit for the debut of ViaVan’s service.
“ViaVan’s mission is to power truly dynamic mass transit systems, liberated from the constraints of fixed routes and fixed schedules,” said Chris Snyder, CEO of ViaVan. “We believe the future of urban transportation is the sweet spot between inflexible fixed route transit service and expensive private car services. Our technology has powered more than 30 million shared rides around the globe, and we’re delighted to launch in Amsterdam, one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in Europe.”
Using the ViaVan app, passengers select their pick up and drop off location and confirm their ride. ViaVan’s smart algorithm enables multiple riders to seamlessly share a single vehicle. The powerful technology directs passengers to a nearby corner – a virtual bus stop – for pick up and drop off, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours that take riders out of their way. This enables ViaVan’s system to transport a high volume of passengers while using a fraction of the number of vehicles utilized by taxis or on-demand car services. By powering efficient ride sharing, ViaVan will reduce traffic and carbon emissions in Amsterdam.
- Debatable: lower emissions and less congestion through ViaVan?