The joint venture between the US-based firm Via and Mercedes-Benz Vans, known as ViaVan, has now launched its on-demand ride-sharing service in London (UK), according to a new press release from Daimler.
The launch in England’s capital follows on ViaVan’s successful launch of service in Amsterdam, Netherlands, just around 4 weeks ago now. The plan is now to launch services in Berlin, Germany, and a number of other cities in Europe within the near- to mid-term, according to the company. The only thing holding up those launches, reportedly, is that required permits are still pending.
The pricing for the London service seems fairly affordable — with an introductory price of £3.00 (~$4.20) in Zone 1 and Zone 2 currently being on offer (those zones roughly representing central London).
The way the new ViaVan on-demand ride-sharing service works is that passengers are directed to nearby dedicated (virtual) stops for pickup following ride requests, a professional driver then picks them up shortly thereafter, and those requesting rides heading to similar destinations or along similar routes are then picked up along the way.
The idea is a pretty basic one — reducing ride/service costs and greenhouse gas + pollutant emissions by combining rides — and seems to be an affordable alternative to taxi service in London for those in the need of a mobility service other than mass transit. If the company is be believed. then the algorithm being used to combine rides doesn’t drag the van far out of the way to pick up secondary customers, so the rides should still be fairly quick despite their combined nature. (I can’t verify this personally as of yet, of course.)
Alternately, one who needs a non-mass-transit option in London could utilize one of the city’s new plug-in electric black cabs being sold by the London Electric Vehicle Company.