London taxi wars: US ride-sharing startup Via, an Uber rival, is heading for London amid major global expansion

 
Lynsey Barber
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The Last Remaining Cabmen's Shelters In London
Via is entering a crowded market for cabs and rides in London (Source: Getty)

US ride-hailing startup Via, a smaller rival to Uber focused on sharing taxis between passengers, is embarking on a major expansion that includes launching in London.

It is hiring in 15 locations in North America, Europe, China and Latin America, beyond its current cities of New York City, Washington DC and Chicago, according to job adverts.

A former executive at travel booking website HotelTonight, Luca Parducci, has been hired to run the business in the capital where it faces competition from well established services, such as Uber, MyTaxi (formerly Hailo) and Gett, as well as the traditional black cabs which the latter two apps support.

Read more: London’s taxi wars are hotting up again: Taxify’s coming to town

London is also served by minicab firm Addison Lee and soon, Taxify, an Estonian startup that City A.M exclusively revealed is planning to set up in London and which earlier this week landed investment from Uber's China rival, Didi Chuxing.

Via provides ride-sharing of New York City's famous yellow cabs through an app and is backed by just over $130m from venture investors such as 83North, Kapor Capital - an angel investor in Uber - and the venture arm of media company Hearst among others.

The startup is also on the hunt for general managers to launch Via in a further two cities in Europe: Berlin and Rome.

In the US, it will expand to Boston, Utah, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and San Francisco, as well as entering new markets: Vancouver and Toronto in Canada, Sao Paulo and Mexico City in Latin America and Tel Aviv in Israel. It is also hiring in China, where Uber recently withdrew from after racking up losses in its fight with homegrown services.

Read more: China's Didi has invested in a European rival to Uber heading for London

It is not clear when the service is expected to launch in London or whether it has applied for a license to operate from Transport for London, which is currently consulting on increasing the cost of private hire vehicles being regulated in the capital. Via would need a license if it were to have individual drivers using the app.

Via had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.

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