Israeli-founded Via to power New York City's school bus system

Responsible for more than 1.1 million students taught in 1,840 separate schools, the New York City Department of Education transports approximately 150,000 students on 9,000 bus routes every day.

By
August 22, 2019 18:07
2 minute read.
A school bus used for transporting New York City public school students is seen driving down 135th a

A school bus used for transporting New York City public school students is seen driving down 135th avenue in the Queens borough of New York . (photo credit: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)

New York-based ride-sharing company Via has been selected by the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE) to provide a “revolutionary” school bus management system for the largest school system in the United States.

Responsible for more than 1.1 million students taught in 1,840 separate schools, the NYCDOE transports approximately 150,000 students on 9,000 bus routes every day.

Founded in 2012 by Israeli entrepreneurs Daniel Ramot and Oren Shoval, Via will launch “Via for Schools,” described as the first integrated, automated school bus routing, tracking and communication platform in the world.


Via co-founder and CTO Oren Shoval (Credit: Via)

The system, Via said, will enable parents and pupils to track bus locations in real-time, and receive frequent and reliable updates in the event of necessary service changes. It will utilize algorithms to optimize school bus routing, thereby achieving operational efficiencies and reducing transportation costs.

“One of the two main goals of this project is to provide visibility and control over a very large operational system, that today is opaque in many aspects,” Shoval, the chief technological officer of the company, told The Jerusalem Post.

“That is the case in many mobility services across the world. It’s not unique to New York City, which creates a lot of opportunities to deploy this technology in many other transportation systems,” said Shoval.

“The second goal is to optimize the system. You can find many cases where the system is not that efficient, but if you compute routes based on an optimization algorithm, you can potentially provide better school travel services and even save operational costs by using fewer vehicles.”

The system’s algorithms will enable both stop-to-school and home-to-school pickups, accommodating students regardless of mobility constraints, learning style or place of residence, the company said.

“Through our partnership with Via, we’ll soon have a state-of-the-art app for families to track buses and get real-time automatic updates,” said New York City schools chancellor Richard A. Carranza.

“We are grateful for the city council’s advocacy, leadership and partnership. Safe and reliable transportation is critical for all families, and we’re committed to getting it right this year.”

Via’s engineering team is based in Tel Aviv and is responsible for core algorithm development, mobile applications, databases, and product and monitoring tools. First launched in New York City, the Via platform operates in 20 countries worldwide, including through partnerships with public transportation agencies, private transit operators, taxi fleets and school systems.

In March, Via teamed up with Israel’s Dan Bus Company to launch “Bubble,” a new smart public transportation service in the Tel Aviv area. The service provides an on-demand shuttle service for Tel Aviv, Givatayim and Ramat Gan.

Users can order a shuttle from a dedicated Bubble smartphone application, and will then be requested to head to a nearby bus station – based on real-time traffic conditions and service demand – where they are collected by a Bubble vehicle. The service, which costs between NIS 12 and NIS 15 per journey, operates Sunday through Thursday from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.


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