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Via expands citywide and launches $2.50 rideshares

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The flat-rate rides are meant to supplement public transit

A view of cars parallel parked on a downtown street with brick buildings, bright sun, green trees, and a CTA train car passing on elevated tracks in the distance. Shutterstock

An Uber and Lyft competitor, Via, has expanded its coverage to more neighborhoods on the far south and west sides nearly doubling its previous operating zone, the rideshare company said.

Within that new citywide expansion zone, users ordering a Via ride to and from a CTA or Metra station can lock-in a rate of $2.50. That’s just about how much a single pass on a CTA would cost which is an intentional move by the company. Rides at that rate must be shared and are capped at a distance of two miles.

“Via will supplement the existing transit by providing first and last mile connections for riders,” the company said in a statement.

The company says public rideshare data shows more requests from the southern most neighborhoods and an overall citywide decline. The city data also shows that rideshares are most popular in downtown areas that have access to many train lines, buses, and Divvy bikes. And, a recent study shows that rideshare companies are adding to the traffic congestion.

But, Via is pushing to make the service affordable and target areas of the city that have less reliable public transportation.

“Our goal is to eliminate the need for private car ownership by providing affordable, convenient, and eco-friendly on-demand shared transportation that can seamlessly integrate into existing public transit,” said Alex Lavoie, US General Manager of Via in a statement.

Affordable rides for areas that are underserved when it comes to transit might help with mobility. However, the city must address the root issues and Lightfoot’s administration has started to do so. City officials are working towards more equitable transportation by decreasing fares to $2.50 on the Metra Electric line, piloting scooters in areas with less transit options, and beginning the Divvy expansion on the South Side. Plus, a $45 billion state capital bill will give the city more money to fund much-needed infrastructure projects.

An illustration of a Chicago map that outlines Via’s previous coverage zone: mainly downtown, North Side, part of the south side, O’Hare and Midway. New coverage zones include the Far South Side, further west, and northwest side.
A map showing Via’s new coverage zone in dark blue.