WeTech Berlin

Reengineering Public Transport with a Flexible Shuttle

Valerie von der Tann, General Manager of ViaVan, spoke Thursday about the limitations of public transportation at Calcalist's WeTech Berlin 2020 conference

Sophie Shulman 17:2401.03.20

Traffic congestion is a global problem that keeps getting worse as more people move into cities. Still, fewer and fewer people are using public transportation, according to Valerie von der Tann, General Manager of ViaVan, a joint venture by Daimler AG's van division Mercedes-Benz Vans and U.S-based ride-sharing company Via Transportation Inc. Von der Tann spoke Thursday at Calcalist's WeTech Berlin 2020 conference, held in collaboration with Israel's Bank Leumi and German real estate company Aroundtown Property Holdings PLC.


According to von der Tann, the reason is that public transport failed to evolve over the years, and most systems are still based on set routes operating according to set schedules. Many rides involve switching between multiple transportation lines and end up taking longer than using private vehicles. “Our main question was how to reengineer public transport using technology,” von der Tann said. “What if the bus adapted to the passenger?”




Via’s solution is a flexible van that picks up passengers from anywhere in the city and drops them off at their destination in a shared ride model. The Berlin service, operated in partnership with Berlin’s public transportation authority, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), was first announced in late 2017.