You’ll have to say goodbye to Via’s personal on-demand rides. Bloombergreports Via is shutting down its ride-hailing operations, currently in New York and Washington, DC, after December 20th. After that, the company will shift its attention to mass transit systems like buses, shuttles and vans. You might still use Via to arrange pickups (including for paratransit) or check schedules, but you won’t have much more control and will likely share the vehicle.
The company isn’t shy about its reasoning: its public transportation business is more successful. Via chief Daniel Ramot told Bloomberg his firm’s transit business is “growing quickly,” and it’s a more reliable revenue stream thanks to long-term contracts. Via would have needed a “major investment” to return its ride-hailing business to pre-pandemic levels, and the company didn’t want to incur those costs when transit was thriving.
Via’s challenges contrast sharply with its ridesharing rivals. Lyft and Uber have been scrambling to find drivers as demand picks back up. They have far larger slices of personal ride hailing than Via, however. Even if Via were to remain committed to personal rides, it would be competing for a small slice of a market with two clear incumbents. The ride-hailing shutdown lets it sidestep that battle entirely and corner a segment Lyft and Uber have largely left untouched.