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Ride share scheme aims to change the face of urban transport

ViaVan is a joint venture between on-demand shared transit expert Via and Mercedes-Benz Vans, whose UK headquarters are in Milton Keynes.

The service allows passengers to book a shared van from a fleet of Mercedes-Benz Vito Tourers through the ViaVan app. The ride-pooling technology, developed initially for New York City, has powered more than 35 million shared rides in the USA, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

Milton Keynes is the fourth city launch for ViaVan, following a successful debut in Amsterdam and London earlier this year and the scheme’s partnership with Berlin’s public transit authority BerlinerVerkehrsbetriebe.

By grouping multiple passengers into a single shared vehicle, ViaVan reduces congestion and emissions, providing an inexpensive, eco-friendly, and convenient transportation alternative, sad chief executive Chris Snyder.

“ViaVan was formed to reengineer urban transit in Europe,” he added. “Milton Keynes is an innovation-forward city and we are delighted to launch this ground-breaking on-demand service, providing residents with a convenient, affordable, and congestion-reducing dynamic transportation alternative.”

In the United Kingdom, Via’s technology powers services in Liverpool and Sittingbourne in partnership with Arriva, and in Oxford in partnership with Go-Ahead. Since launching in London in April, ViaVan has provided more than 2.5 million shared rides.

Milton Keynes Council’s head of transport Steve Hayes said: “Milton Keynes Council is very proactive towards transport innovation and working in partnership with innovative, commercial companies so ViaVan fits in perfectly with our aims to offer a wide range of travel options to everyone.

“Sharing journeys is something we fully support as one of our key objectives is to reduce our carbon footprint and reduce traffic growth so that Milton Keynes remains easy and quick to travel around as it continues to grow rapidly.”

Mercedes-Benz Vans UK is keen to develop the service in Milton Keynes. Its sales director Simon Neill said: “The bundling of rides will play its part in helping to ease the traffic in the city and at the same time, many commuters to the capital will see a real benefit.”

Mr Snyder added: “Over the next few years, we are increasingly going to see cities and towns asking how they can provide their residents with transportation that provides the same ease and convenience as private car ownership and yet still achieves the same environmental and congestion-reducing benefits mass transit. ViaVan is a platform that integrates with existing transit infrastructure.”  

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