Mercedes' ridesharing ViaVan service comes to London

ViaVan promises low-cost rides with better pay than Uber.

Add another company to the list of transportation services filling Uber's London-sized void. Mercedes-Benz and Via have launched their jointly owned ViaVan service in Zones 1 and 2 of the city, giving Londoners a "ride-pooling" option that bridges the gap between plain ridesharing and mass transit. The allure, as you might guess, stems from the low cost that comes with multi-passenger rides -- for a limited time, rides into and out of Zone 1 will cost a relatively low £3 (about $4). You just have to accept that ViaVan will choose nearby pickup and drop-off points rather than offering a lift at your exact location.

The service premiered in Amsterdam in March. On top of its reduced prices, it also makes a point of helping drivers make a "decent living" -- a jab at Uber's reputation for less-than-stellar pay. ViaVan claims it takes the smallest cut of any comparable service in London.

This isn't as far-reaching as conventional ridesharing (which can typically cover a whole city), and even the discounted rate can be more expensive than a bus or the Tube if either option will get you where you want to go. Still, it might hit the sweet spot if you're in a relative hurry, but not so much of a hurry that you're willing to pay a premium for a private car.