Via expands shared ride service to Evanston


Courtesy photo by Caroline Hawkins

A Via vehicle. The shared ride service announced that it was expanding its area to include Evanston.

Andrea Michelson, Digital Managing Editor

Via, a shared ride service, announced on Monday that it is expanding its Chicago-area service zone to include Evanston, Hermosa, Humboldt Park and Mayfair.

All shared rides within Evanston will initially cost a flat fee of $3. Via’s U.S. General Manager Alex Lavoie said although the flat fee is a launch promotion, the $3 rate is a “sustainable price point” for Via’s future business in Evanston.

Via differs from other rideshare platforms in that it is fundamentally a technology company, Lavoie said. It offers a form of “dynamic mass transit,” he said, providing shared rides on demand with lower prices than those of competitors like Uber or Lyft.

“It provides the most affordable ride in almost all use cases,” Lavoie said. “But it’s affordability with convenience. So with efficient routing, it doesn’t feel like it’s taking you out of your way, but it does match you with other people who are heading in the same direction, which is ultimately what allows us to make the price a little more affordable.”

According to a news release by Via Transportation, Via’s algorithm connects passengers going to similar destinations, directing them to a “virtual bus stop” for pick up and drop off. This technology minimizes the number of vehicles in use and reduces congestion and emissions.

Lavoie said the Evanston population is “an exciting target market” for Via. He said Via can serve a variety of different needs in Evanston, such as transport to and from CTA stations, grocery stores and late night destinations.

The expansion will increase Via’s Chicago-area service zone by more than 20 percent, according to the news release.

“It represents a really nice continuation of our goal to expand … and provide our unique form of dynamic mass transit to the greater Chicago area,” Lavoie said.

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