Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have completely changed the way we travel from place to place.
They’ve also given a lot of people an opportunity to make money in the gig economy as a rideshare driver.
But by no means are they the only games in town.
There’s another rideshare service that’s changing the industry – Via.
Via operates similarly to Uber and Lyft, but with a few very distinctive differences.
Currently, it’s only available in a few cities.
But with better pay rates, it’s winning people over left and right – especially drivers who have worked for the other two ride services.
Competition, regardless of the industry, forces companies to work hard and provide better service.
And in cities where Via operates, it’s giving Uber and Lyft a real run for their money.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about taking a ride with Via or working as a Via rideshare driver.
What is Via?
Via describes itself as follows:
“We’ve built revolutionary technology that is changing the way people get around cities.
Using Via, a ride booked on your phone costs little more than the bus.
Via is on-demand transit on a mass scale; it’s smart transportation that’s friendly to our planet.
We’re backed by some of the world’s top investors.
Currently live in NYC, Chicago, and Washington, DC, we’re aggressively expanding our operations and have launched numerous groundbreaking partnerships with transportation providers across the globe.”
That’s all well and good, but what exactly does it mean?
What really separates Via from the competition?
The most obvious distinction is that it’s set up to be an actual ridesharing service.
As a passenger, in most cases, you’ll get in a car with strangers who are heading in the same direction as you.
It offers corner-to-corner service, so you won’t get dropped off at your exact location – you’ll be picked up and dropped off at a nearby corner.
It operates much like public transportation, and it costs only a little bit more.
Via also says wait times are usually about 5 minutes, which is faster than the bus system.
Uber and Lyft will take you door to door, but Via does not.
Depending on your destination, you may need to walk that last block or two to reach your desired location.
The tradeoff for the lack of door to door service is that you’ll end up paying a lower fare.
And for drivers, the company encourages the sharing of rides.
This gets more passengers where the need to go in a more eco-friendly manner, and it puts more money in the pockets of both riders and drivers.
How is Via Different from the Uber Express Pool?
For passengers, Via is quite similar to the Uber Express Pool, which is the cheaper version of Uber Pool.
Both Via and Uber Express Pool provide passengers with drop off areas as opposed to specific drop-off locations.
That allows the driver to make fewer stops, which means the ride is quicker and more efficient.
The Uber Express Pool is the most affordable service that Uber has to offer – but it doesn’t put any extra money in the driver’s pocket.
Another big difference with Via is that it focuses heavily on the commuter market.
In some cases, you can use commuter debit cards to pay for rides.
In the cities where Via operates:
“You can pay for Via with a variety of commuter benefits debit cards including WageWorks, TransitChek, Beniversal, eTRAC, Commuter Check, Benefit Strategies, Ameriflex, Zenefits, FlexFacts Commuter Benefits Card, and Igoe Administrative Services Benefits Card.
Members using commuter benefits debit cards always ride in vehicles seating six or more.”
The way drivers and passengers communicate is also different from the Uber Express Pool.
According to Via, a live support team manages all communications with the passengers.
That allows drivers to focus on driving.
The support team organizes the pickup spots and lets customers know where to be in real-time.
All the driver has to do is drive to that location.
Currently, Via is only available in New York City, Chicago, and the Washington DC/ Arlington, VA area.
To book a ride in one of those cities, start by downloading the ride-sharing app.
You’ll see a blue marker to indicate your closest pickup location and an orange marker to select your drop-off location.
You’ll be able to review the time of your pickup, the price of the ride, and the details of your trip.
Once you confirm your ride, just head to your pickup location, look for the car picking you up, and that’s it!
You’ll be on your way.
Just remember, there may be other passengers already in the car when you get in.
If not, you may have to make a few additional stops to pick up more passengers along the way.
How Much Does Via Cost?
The cost of a Via ride varies depending on the length of your ride and the city you’re in.
The easiest way to take a Via ride is with a ViaPass.
It’s the equivalent of buying a transit pass, and you can buy them on a weekly or monthly basis.
Without a ViaPass, there are a few different elements that factor into the cost of a ride.
In New York City:
The rate depends upon when you ride, how far you ride, and the number of passengers in your party.
Shorter rides start at less than $5, and you’ll know the exact cost of your ride before you ever agree to the pickup or ever get in the car.
If you cancel or don’t show up at the pickup point, you will be charged a $3 fee.
This pricing structure applies to airport rides, Private Rides, ViaExpress rides, and shared Via rides.
These prices are not applicable for Shared Taxis.
If you have one additional passenger on a private ride, you won’t be charged any surcharges.
If you have a group of 5 or more people, you’ll need a large vehicle.
With larger vehicles, you may be charged a bit extra.
You’ll also have to pay NY State sales tax and the cost of any tolls along the way.
In a ridesharing situation, the cost of tolls is distributed evenly among the passengers.
Short rides start at just $3.95.
Cancellations and no-show fees are $3 per canceled trip.
As with all Via rides, you’ll see the price of your ride in the app before confirming your booking.
In Chicago, some rides are TNP (transportation network provider) trips.
With a TNP trip, you’ll be charged an additional $0.50 for the Chicago City & Accessibility Fee.
Tolls and taxes, such as the $5 Ground Transportation Tax on Navy Pier and McCormick Place may also apply.
In Washington D.C.:
The easiest way to ride with Via is to use the #LINKViaPass.
Without a ViaPass, you’ll be charged a fare that varies depending on the distance you go, when you ride, and how many passengers are in your party.
Cancellations and no-shows in D.C. are subject to a $2 fee.
Does Via Hire Drivers?
Yes! If you live in a city where Via is available, you can sign up now.
Drivers can earn up to a $2,000 sign-on bonus and pay service fees as little as 10% on each ride.
Don’t have a car?
That’s okay too – Via can help you rent a luxury car at an affordable rate.
How Much do Via Drivers Get Paid?
Every potential driver wants to know the same thing: how much money can I earn?
According to a press release from Via:
“A report … commissioned by New York City’s Taxi and Limousine Commission, established Via as the industry leader when it comes to driver earnings and vehicle efficiency in New York City.
Via driver partners are on average earning 43% more than Lyft drivers and 35% more than Uber drivers in the New York market.
Via is the only rideshare company in the city to already have the vast majority of drivers on its platform earning well above the recommended $17.22 earnings floor, while achieving a record 70% utilization.
Via drivers on average take home $21.73 per hour after expenses.”
Via has two different payment systems: Blue Mode and Flex Mode.
In Blue Mode, earnings are a guaranteed flat rate.
Drivers agree to accept a certain hourly rate they’ll earn regardless of how few or how many rides they complete.
With guaranteed Blue Mode earnings, drivers are not privy to “Rocket Pay,” which is Via’s version of Uber’s Surge Pricing.
Drivers also have the option to work in Flex Mode.
With Flex Mode, you’ll be paid based on the number of rides you complete.
There is no guarantee of hourly earnings, but you can take advantage of Rocket Pay pricing when it’s available.
Via Driver Requirements
Driver requirements are similar to those for Uber and Lyft.
You must have a valid driver’s license, have at least one year of U.S. driving experience, and be able to pass a criminal background check.
If you have criminal offenses or serious traffic violations in your past, you won’t be eligible to drive for Via.
Drivers in New York City are also required to have a TLC license.
The Taxi & Limousine Commission license is essential before you can drive in NYC and its boroughs.
You can apply to drive for Via without the license, but you must obtain one before you can drive.
Via does offer services and support to help you get your TLC license.
Via Vehicle Requirements
Vehicle requirements are a bit stricter than those from Uber and Lyft.
They also vary depending on the city in which you plan to drive.
In New York City, you must have a TLC-licensed vehicle with a leather interior or a fabric interior newer than 2016.
If you don’t have a vehicle that meets these requirements you can still apply.
Via will send you information and resources to help you bring your current car to Via standards.
They can also help you can a great deal on a Via-approved car.
For a full list of Via-accepted vehicles in NYC, click here.
The vehicle requirements for Chicago drivers are a bit more relaxed.
You can have a luxury vehicle newer than 2005 or a non-luxury vehicle newer than 2010.
Washington D.C. drivers have pretty simple requirements as well.
Your car must be newer than 2010 and have private license plates.
Check with Via if your vehicle qualifies to drive for Via in the nation’s capital.
How do you Sign Up to be a Via Driver?
Signing up to be a Via driver is easy.
Click on the application page and start by entering your name, phone number, and email address.
You can also create an account here so you can check the status of your application or finish it at a later time.
You’ll need to answer a few questions and provide information such as the make, model, color, year, and license plate number of your vehicle.
NYC drivers will be asked a few questions about the TLC license.
All drivers will need to consent to a background check and, in some cases, a vehicle inspection.
If Via approves your application, you’ll need to upload a few documents.
These include your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and proof of registration.
You will also need to provide tax info and bank account info so you can get paid.
When Via approves your application, you’ll have to go through a new driver orientation and a little bit of training.
Then you’ll be on your way to earning some serious cash!
Though Via isn’t available in all cities, it’s certainly giving Uber a run for its money in the cities where it operates.
As a passenger, you can get to and from where you have to go for just a little bit more than the price of the bus or other public transit options.
For drivers, working for Via can be a great source of income. Drivers in NYC report taking home an average of $21.73 per hour, as opposed to taking home just $14.78 with Uber.
So whether you want to drive or enjoy a ride as a passenger, it might be time to take a break from Uber.
Download the Via app, sign up to be a driver, or schedule a pickup and take your first ride.
Via is growing and expanding all the time, so it shouldn’t be long before they’re available in your town.