Updated on August 1, 2016
There's a new competitor in town. Via, a smaller provider in the ride-sharing business, recently launched in Chicago. The company started it's $5 flat rate ride service in midtown Manhattan and not long ago finished its expansion to all of Manhattan (south of 110th st). Via doesn't offer the same service as competitors Lyft and Uber. The major differences are that Via only provides carpool rides, they drive specific routes like a bus or train, and the service is only available weekdays 6:30am-9pm. That means you will not get picked up at an exact address. “We are a corner-to-corner service,” Via’s Chicago general manager Chris Snyder said (source: builtinchicago.org).
Lyft Line, which I use all the time, is joining in too! They launched their carpooling option in Chicago this week. Now riders in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, and Austin, Texas can save even more by sharing rides with other passengers.
$10 FREE RIDE CREDIT
- New customers only: download the free app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play
- When you sign up, find a promo code here – if you miss the option, you can add it later: just click MENU –> PROMO CODES. This is a referral code. Thank you if you sign up with this code – feel free to post yours in the comments below.
- Note: the free credit may not appear in your account until after your first ride
VIA vs COMPETITION
Chicago residents will be happy to get another competitor fighting for marketshare and pushing costs even lower. New York City has had the benefit of being home to many ride sharing services which see the city as one of the most important battlegrounds. Perhaps Gett, which also only operates in NYC (plus a few international cities) also has its eyes on Chicago?
- Via $5 Rides: between Lakeview and the Loop. (only from 6:30am to 9pm)
- Lyft: $50 sign up bonus – Chicago does not have Lyft Line service yet.
- Uber Pool: $20 sign up bonus
NO NEW DRIVER BONUS
Unfortunately, Via is not currently offering a signing bonus for new Chicago drivers. New York City had bonuses up to $1000 or $1300. When I tested out the sign up page, I discovered there is a waitlist with a note “Demand to join the Via system is very high right now”.
- To apply click here and select CHICAGO.
- Enter your information.
For only $5, you can now ride Via between Lakeview and the Loop. Weekdays, 6:30am – 9pm only.
Lyft Line's coverage map looks better but it'll cost you more than $5. I priced up the sample ride from the map below and it came to almost $9.18, not $8 as the graphic below suggests. They say it's cheaper if you start or end downtown (see EXTRA Discount Zone on the map).
USE PRE-TAX DOLLARS
This is a perk the competitors don't have. You can use pre-tax dollars to pay for your Via rides. This gives Via a competitive lead over the competition! Via takes several different payment methods including TransitCheck, Commuter Check, Beniversal, WageWorks, and eTRAC.
Plan ahead and give yourself some extra time. Via will avoid highways and take local roads instead and that can mean extra delays versus the usual route. Also, the app is a battery hog so make sure you manually kill the app when you are not using it.
- A Ridesharing App That Charges Just $5 a Ride Has Expanded to Chicago
- 2 weeks after Chicago launch, Via expands ridesharing service
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