Ridesharing startup Via to manage NYC school bus system
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Ridesharing startup Via to manage NYC school bus system

‘Via for Schools’ will be the first integrated, automated school bus routing, tracking, and communication platform in the world, says the firm, founded by 2 Israelis

An illustrative picture from April 5, 2019, shows two boys walking next to a school bus in a Jewish neighborhood in Monsey, Rockland County, New York. (Johannes Eisele/AFP)
An illustrative picture from April 5, 2019, shows two boys walking next to a school bus in a Jewish neighborhood in Monsey, Rockland County, New York. (Johannes Eisele/AFP)

US ridesharing startup Via has been chosen by the New York City Department of Education to provide “a revolutionary school bus management system” for the nation’s largest school district, the company said on Thursday.

“Via for Schools” will be the first integrated, automated school bus routing, tracking, and communication platform in the world, the company, founded by two Israelis, said in a statement.

Parents and students will be able to track in real-time the locations of buses, boarding and alighting of passengers, route changes, and delays, the statement said. Via’s algorithms to optimize school bus routing will make the system safer, “significantly improve operational efficiency” and ultimately reduce transportation costs.

A screenshot of the Via app showing a school bus pickup in Manhattan (Courtesy)

“Through our partnership with Via, we’ll soon have a state-of-the-art app for families to track buses and get real-time automatic updates,” said Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza in the statement. “Safe and reliable transportation is critical for all families, and we’re committed to getting it right this year.”

As the largest school district in the nation, the NYC Department of Education transports approximately 150,000 students on 9,000 bus routes every day. The system will use a flexible algorithm to allows for student pickups regardless of mobility constraints or places of residence, the statement said.

Oren Shoval, the co-founder of the Via ridesharing startup (Courtesy)

Via’s technology is in use in more than 50 markets across the globe, including the Los Angeles Metro, Transport for London, and Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), the statement said, and has partnered with private transit operators to provide on-demand public transportation services.

Launched in New York City in September 2013, and founded by Israelis Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, the Via platform operates in the United States and in Europe through its joint venture with Mercedes-Benz Vans, ViaVan.

“Via was founded in New York, where we are proud to operate the city’s most efficient on-demand shared ride service,” said Daniel Ramot, the co-founder and CEO of Via.

Last year, the ride-sharing firm launched an on-demand mini-bus pilot service with the Dan Bus Company in the Tel Aviv area.

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