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Northwestern University partners with Via to provide new on-demand safe ride program

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The partnership allows students to book a Via on-demand for free, providing more vehicles and driver hours than the university’s previous Safe Ride program.

September 18, 2019 (CHICAGO, ILLINOIS) — Via, the world’s leading provider and developer of on-demand public mobility solutions, today announced a new partnership with Northwestern University, one of the country’s leading private research and teaching universities. Starting this year, Northwestern students will be able to hail a free Via during the evening hours, safely shuttling students around the university’s Evanston, IL campus. 

The decision to partner with Via comes in response to student feedback about Northwestern’s existing Safe Ride program, and after examining ridership data over the past two years. By partnering with Via, students will see a 38 percent increase in the total number of hours that drivers are available, utilizing an increased number of dedicated and trained drivers each night.

Via’s partnership with Northwestern marks the company’s third high-profile university deployment in America. Via currently operates dynamic, on-demand student shuttles at both Harvard University and Northeastern University

“Via has a demonstrated record as a transportation partner with other universities,” said Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, Northwestern’s interim vice president for Student Affairs. “We are confident they will create a ride service that is more available and able to meet the needs of our Northwestern students.”

Isabel Dobbel, president of Northwestern’s Associated Student Government, said wait times and past app difficulties have disproportionately affected low-income students on campus.

“Many times, students would request a private ride, paid for by themselves, through a separate app,” Dobbel said. “The Safe Rides partnership with Via shows potential to improve the user side of the experience, remove a difficult barrier for low-income students and increase access to safe and free transportation on campus.”

Northwestern’s partnership with Via means Safe Ride will continue to provide unlimited free rides for all undergraduate and graduate students, increasing campus safety by making it easier than ever to request a ride on-demand. As in years past, the Safe Ride program will operate seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. during the fall, winter and spring quarters. Under the partnership, more vehicles and driver times will be available to students, a move designed to decrease wait times.

Safe Ride drivers will be paid an hourly rate instead of per ride. Drivers will be carefully selected with preference given to those with the highest ratings, positive customer feedback and the best driving records.

“We are delighted to partner with Northwestern University to bring a new level of convenience and efficiency to the school’s Safe Ride program,” said Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via. “Students shouldn’t have to think twice about getting around campus safely. We’re looking forward to providing students with a smart, efficient and sustainable campus transportation solution.”

Riders can download the Via app (iOS and Android) to hail vehicle directly from their smartphone. Via’s advanced algorithms will enable multiple riders to seamlessly share the vehicle. The powerful technology will direct passengers to the nearby pickup point, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.

Via has been tapped by cities, universities and transportation players around the world to help re-engineer public transit from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. Via now has more than 80 launched and pending deployments in more than 20 countries, providing more than 60 million rides to date. To learn more about Via, visit

About Via

Via is re-engineering public transit, from a regulated system of rigid routes and schedules to a fully dynamic, on-demand network. Via’s mobile app connects multiple passengers who are headed the same way, allowing riders to seamlessly share a premium vehicle. First launched in New York City in September 2013, the Via platform operates in the United States and in Europe through its joint venture with Mercedes-Benz Vans, ViaVan. Via’s technology is also deployed worldwide through dozens of partner projects with public transportation agencies, private transit operators, taxi fleets, private companies, and universities, seamlessly integrating with public transit infrastructure to power cutting-edge on-demand mobility. For more information, visit

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