On-demand shuttle startup Via enters South American market

Via, the on-demand shuttle startup backed by Daimler, has expanded into South America.

The company launched a service in Goiânia, Brazil with HP Transportes Coletivos, one of the country’s largest public transportation operators. Via says the service, called CityBus 2.0, is the first on-demand shuttle system operated by a public transit operator to launch in Latin America.

Users are able to use an app to request a ride in 11 districts around the city. Base fares are R$2.50, or $0.68. Via’s service features a fleet of 14-seater Mercedes-Benz vans that are capable of handling up to 3,500 trips per day. The service employs 30 drivers. 

So far, it appears there’s demand for this on-demand shuttle service. More than 15,000 people downloaded the CityBus 2.0 app in the first week of service, Via said.

When a rider places the request, the app calculates the distance and shows the fare. Payment can be made by credit card or cash. While on-demand ride-hailing services typically only process payments through an app, Via does allow cash transactions with some transit agency partners. Cash payments are also available in locales like Orange County where OC Flex launched.

Via has 50 deployments in 15 countries. The company has consumer-facing shuttles in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and New York. The company also partners with cities and transportation authorities — like this latest one in Brazil — giving clients access to their platform to deploy their own shuttles.

Last month, Via announced it was partnering with Los Angeles as part of a pilot program that will give people rides to three busy public transit stations. The pilot program aims to solve the first- and last-mile problem that makes it challenging for people to get to and from public transit stations.