Airport trips are about to be cheaper as the on-demand car service expands beyond Manhattan

Airport trips are about to be cheaper as the on-demand car service expands beyond Manhattan

Via is expanding its ride-sharing service to two New York City major airports.

Low-cost ride-sharing app Via is expanding beyond Manhattan. Starting Thursday, the service will begin shuttling New Yorkers to and from LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports.

"Riders have been consistently asking us for airport trips for quite a while," said Alex Lavoie, Via's general manager for New York. "Given the demand for riders to take taxi trips to the airport, we expect that it will be quite a popular service."

But trips to the airport will cost Via users more than what they're accustomed to. Via has been charging $5 to $7 per ride in Manhattan. A trip from Manhattan to LaGuardia will cost $24.95, while a ride between Manhattan and JFK will run $39.95. And any additional passengers in the car will pay $5 a piece. Tolls are split evenly among all passengers.

"We're covering the cost of servicing a ride to the airport," said Lavoie. "It takes longer to get to the airport, and the cost to drivers is higher as far as gas and wear and tear on the vehicle. This price point is still really competitive versus the other options out there."

The cost of a ride in a yellow taxi from JFK to Manhattan is a flat $52, and $56.50 during peak hours. So travelers would be saving $12 to $17 using Via. But riders may save even more money on a trip to LaGuardia because taxis traveling to and from Queens’ northernmost airport use metered pricing. In that case, a passenger will save between $15 to $25, Lavoie estimates.

Via's discounted pricing has helped the Uber rival grow steadily in New York City. When the service launched in 2013, riders were limited to rides on the Upper East Side. Travelers were happy to trade off a slightly less personalized trip (by waiting at nearby street corners instead of specific addresses) to take advantage of flat rates that align with public transportation prices.

Today, hundreds of Via drivers are now on the road at any given time, and the company has expanded its service to lower Manhattan. Via also plans to branch out to other boroughs.

"Airport trips were a logical step," said Lavoie. "We're actively evaluating Brooklyn. The goal will be to expand throughout New York City."