Via Expands Micro-Transit Service in Chicago

Via Transportation Inc. is nearly doubling the service area for its micro-mobility vans in Chicago and setting a flat rate of $2.50 per trip in certain areas of the city.

The $2.50 fee applies to two-mile rides to and from bus, train and subway stations. The so-called first- and last-mile service is designed to support and encourage greater use of public transportation.

With the expanded Chicago service area, Via now covers virtually the entire city. This includes low-income areas and other sections that currently are under-served by public transportation, according to the supplier.

New York City-based Via uses flexible routing to facilitate ride-sharing in Mercedes vans among passengers headed in the same direction. Users reserve and pay for rides with a smartphone app, which features an advanced software algorithm to coordinate routes and schedules.

Passengers are picked up and dropped off from high-traffic locations near their current locations and intended destinations.

Launched in New York in 2013, Via currently operates in a handful of U.S. and European cities, where it has coordinated more than 60 million rides to date. The company says it plans to launch in more than 80 cities in about 20 countries over the next year.