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D.C. picks ride-hailing company Via to help transport government employees

A new partnership is designed to reduce the use and costs of the District government’s vehicle fleet

A Via driver near the Lincoln Memorial

The D.C. government is teaming up with New York-based ride-hailing provider Via to offer public employees rides for official business. Announced this month, the partnership grows out of a city pilot program involving local taxi companies that ran from June 2017 to April 2018. The pilot allowed employees of the District to take more than 2,100 rides using cabs.

Officials selected Via to continue the program on a long-term basis after a competitive bid process among transportation providers, according to the D.C. Department of Public Works (DPW), which oversees the District’s fleet of owned and leased vehicles. Employees can use the Via app to hail rides, and charges incurred through the service will be billed directly to city agencies. The D.C. government currently has more than 35,000 workers on its payrolls.

In a release, DPW said the Via program would help lower maintenance, fuel, and acquisition costs for the government’s fleet and cut operating costs by roughly 20 percent, based on a per mile rate. “We know from our previous pilot that an on-demand ride-sharing service is the fastest and most efficient way for our employees to travel for work-related activities,” DPW’s interim director Chris Geldart said in a statement. “Via is the best fit for our agencies’ needs.”

As of 2017, the District’s fleet included almost 900 vehicles and employees spent significant time looking for parking, WAMU reported. Total annual costs amounted to over $23 million.

Via has been in D.C. since 2016 and Arlington since 2018. It’s also in New York and Chicago.