Shared rides are still banned. What does it mean for the future of the industry, especially Via which we calculate no longer qualifies as a High Volume For-Hire Service (HVFHS)
Before the pandemic started in NYC this is how the market shares of the three dominant (Uber, Lyft, Via) NYC ridehailing players looked, the percentage of their respective trips that were shared and their “shared trip” market share.
A lot has changed since February 2020 as we all know (i.e. two of the above charts cannot be reproduced as there have been no shared trips since the NYC pandemic began in March 2020). While a rebound is happening looking at overall NYC daily trip volume by company reveals Via is being left behind.
With the “shared trip ban” beginning its second year, one has to contemplate what this means for the NYC TLC market post pandemic. For example, heading in 2019 there were four scaled app-based for-hire companies – Uber, Lyft, Via and Juno. After Juno shut its NYC service in late 2019 it left the market with only three scaled players. Via, as the data shows, carved out a meaningful share in shared trips. While Via may stick around, its shared trip focus has crushed its market share and trip volumes, in turn making it less interesting to drivers. In fact, Via’s trip volumes have declined so drastically that they no longer qualify for what the NYC TLC defines as a High-Volume For-Hire Service (HVFHS), which was a category meant to separate the ‘Big 4’ Apps (Uber, Lyft, Via, Juno) at the time from other bases. For nearly a year Via has failed to meet the 10,000 daily trip threshold of the HVFHS category. While I hope Via sticks around and is able to gain share back it wouldn’t surprise me if they went the way of Juno (in NYC). In addition, they may choose to focus on their higher margin software services business (i.e. helping governments with mass transit) and/or other rideshare markets.
Finally, even if shared trips are allowed back people will probably be hesitant for at least several months before potentially deciding to split trips again with strangers (i.e. financial benefit of cheaper rides vs. perceived health risk). It’ll be interesting to understand what happens to Via and whether they can save their NYC rides business or if decide to throw in the towel.