Skip to main content

Apple’s hometown will use Via ridesharing to supplement public transit

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Would you rather hail a ridesharing car, or hop on a bus? One of the many criticisms of ridesharing is that it competes with public transit, but Apple’s hometown wants the two forms of transportation to coexist. Cupertino, California, has tapped Via to operate so-called “on-demand public transit,” using the company’s vans to connect residents with CalTrain commuter rail.

Beginning October 29, commuters will be able to use the Via app (or a phone reservation system) to hail a shuttle van anywhere within Cupertino’s city limits, as well as a zone around the Sunnyvale CalTrain station. Multiple riders will share each vehicle, coordinated by Via’s algorithms. Riders will be directed to “virtual bus stops” within walking distance of their locations.

Having ridesharing customers actually share a vehicle, and minimizing detours through the “virtual bus stops,” Via believes it can keep the service efficient while still offering greater convenience than traditional buses. Riders will be able to hail a shuttle van whenever they want, without being locked into a bus schedule, Via noted.

Via will charge $5 per ride, and will offer multiride passes at $17 a week or $60 a month. Service will operate Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The fleet will consist of six Mercedes-Benz Metris vans (yes, Mercedes makes vans, and it has a deal to provide them for all of Via’s shuttle services), including one wheelchair-accessible van. Via said it plans to expand to 10 vans “over time.” Avis Budget Group will maintain the vans.

Recent studies have shown that services like Uber and Lyft can erode public transit use, but city officials are increasingly looking to ridesharing operators to help supplement mass transportation. Several cities have tried subsidizing Uber and Lyft rides for residents, with mixed results. Via claims its alternative model, which, it’s worth noting, encourages more riders to share vehicles, can turn public transit into a more flexible, on-demand service. The company noted that other California cities, including Los Angeles, already use its technology. Via claims to have started operations, or plans to start, in 80 locations in over 20 countries, with 60 million rides to date.

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally kicks up some dirt
Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally driving on a dirt road.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E electric SUV pushed the hallowed Mustang nameplate in a different direction, and it's doing that again with a new performance variant. Debuting in 2024, the Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally is designed for fun on both pavement and dirt.

Rallying is a form of motorsport where drivers compete to set the quickest time over a course — usually a closed road or trail — rather than a dedicated racetrack that includes a variety of surfaces like dirt, gravel, or even snow. Rallying has inspired some epic performance road cars over the years, including the Subaru WRX, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, and Ford's own Focus RS, but it's never really been associated with the Mustang.

Read more
BMW scraps its unpopular approach to heated seats
Driver's seat and dashboard of the 2023 BMW iX M60.

BMW caused much consternation last year when it launched a subscription-only option for heated car seats.

The idea of having to pay a monthly fee of $18 to keep your posterior warm during the winter months still seems as absurd as ever, but the good news is that the German automaker has now decided to scrap the fee. What particularly irked customers was that they felt they were being forced to cough up extra for functions that would previously have been expected as standard. The fiasco even prompted a community of hackers to offer their services to unlock the feature for those unwilling to pay extra for it.

Read more
Cruise says it’s nearing approval for mass production of futuristic robotaxi
Interior of Cruise's Origin vehicle.

Robotaxi company Cruise is “just days away” from getting regulatory approval that would pave the way for mass production of its purpose-built driverless vehicle, CEO Kyle Vogt said on Thursday in comments reported by the Detroit Free Press.

General Motors-backed Cruise unveiled the vehicle -- called Origin -- in early 2020, presenting the kind of driverless car that we all dreamed of when R&D in the sector kicked off years ago; a vehicle without a steering wheel and without pedals. A vehicle with passenger seats only.

Read more