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Ride-hailing app, Via, risks losing its license in D.C.

By limiting its service to only a few neighborhoods west of the Anacostia River, Via is violating D.C. law

Screenshot of Via’s website

Since the fall of 2016, a New York-based ride-hailing app, known as Via, has operated in Washington, D.C., but has only served specific areas of the city. From the beginning, Via has picked up and dropped off workers, residents, and visitors in Downtown D.C. and its surrounding neighborhoods, no areas east of the Anacostia River, a typically under-served part of the city. A spokeswoman at Via tells the Washington Post that Via’s model has been to start operations in the “densest area” of each city before expanding to the next area. With this model, Via has violated specific provisions of the law, known as the Vehicle for Hire Innovation Amendment Act of 2014.

D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh, who co-introduced the bill with David Grosso, tells the Washington Post that “part of the whole benefit of the app services was supposed to be to provide service throughout the District.”

D.C. Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie also spoke on the issue, saying, “If the company is violating the District’s human rights laws, or in any way discriminating against our residents, they must end that practice immediately and comply with District law.”

The office of Mayor Muriel Bowser notified Via this past Thursday that it has 90 days to either broaden the coverage area or face penalties from city regulators. These penalties may include fines or the company losing its license to operate in the District.

Currently, Via operates in Chicago and New York.

Via offers cheap, shared rides — but only in certain parts of the city [The Washington Post]