Covid-19: Via launches free ride-sharing service for medical workers in Abu Dhabi

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Smart mobility ride-sharing service provider Via, has launched a new on-demand essential transportation system in Abu Dhabi to provide free rides for medical workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Powered by Via and deployed in partnership with the leading transport operator United Trans and Abu Dhabi’s Integrated Transport Centre (ITC), of the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT), the city’s essential healthcare workers now have a safe and reliable way to travel between their home and place of work during the coronavirus public health crisis. The new service follows a similar scheme recently launched in Berlin.

As an appreciation for healthcare workers through the city, Abu Dhabi Healthcare Link is completely free, courtesy of ITC. Employees simply enter a rider code provided by their hospital in the mobile app, and they’ll instantly be able to book a ride to and from their home and place of work. The new on-demand transportation service is available from 6pm to 8am, as fixed-route public transportation is scaled back as a preventative measure to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Using the all-new Abu Dhabi Healthcare Link app (iOS and Android), medical employees will be able to hail a 14-seat Mercedes-Benz Sprinter directly from their smartphone. Via’s advanced algorithms will enable multiple riders to seamlessly share the vehicle, with a maximum of six healthcare workers allowed in one Sprinter to ensure adequate space for social distancing. Via’s powerful technology picks up multiple passengers in a seamless flow, allowing for quick and efficient shared trips without lengthy detours, or inconvenient fixed routes and schedules.

“Getting critical staff to work reliably and safely has never been more important,” says Daniel Ramot, co-founder and CEO of Via. “Digitally-enabled transport services like the Abu Dhabi Healthcare Link can play a key role in allowing public transport to adapt to demand amidst rapidly changing situations. We are proud to apply our technology and operational expertise to support essential mobility for critical healthcare workers in Abu Dhabi during these challenging times.”

The ITC adds it will study ridership closely, with plans to expand the new on-demand microtransit service to 24 hours a day should demand indicate broader service hours. Its expansion would support and complement existing transportation provided by hospitals.

Abu Dhabi Healthcare Link is deployed in partnership with the leading transportation provider United Trans, which has successfully completed projects with the RTA, Etihad Rail, Dubai Metro, Dubai International Airport, Al Maktoum International Airport, and Oman Airport Management Company.

“We feel incredibly honoured and grateful to partner with Via to develop this platform for the Abu Dhabi ITC. UAE has always led by example and this new service is no exception. We are going through unprecedented times, and we hope that this new service will support the healthcare staff that are tirelessly working round the clock to help save lives.” said Ahmad Bin Eisa Alserkal, Chairman of United Trans (member of Alserkal Group of Companies).

The ITC in Abu Dhabi now joins a number of high-profile transportation agencies turning to Via to help develop the next generation of public transportation, specifically during the Covid-19 pandemic. Cities like BerlinTimaru, and Malta have each deployed similar on-demand emergency transportation services to quickly and efficiently transport essential workers and goods, like groceries and medical supplies.

Via is now working with nearly 100 partners in more than 20 countries to help connect more people to transit including the Los Angeles Metro, Transport for London (TfL), Sydney’s Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW), and Berlin’s Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG).

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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