Via's on-demand van service comes to Apple's backyard

Cupertino commuters have a choice before the self-driving shuttles arrive.

Via's on-demand vans have been available in a handful of cities, but now the company is aiming for a particularly obvious market: Silicon Valley commuters. The city of Cupertino and Via are launching an alternative public transportation network on October 29th that will let locals hail a Mercedes shuttle van to travel within the city, including to and from Apple Park -- helpful for staff who want a relatively inexpensive ride to work. You'll also find a "satellite zone" of service around the Sunnyvale CalTrain station to help commuters complete their trips.

This isn't round-the-clock service. The vans will only be available from 6AM to 8PM Monday to Friday, and 9AM to 5PM on Saturdays. They'll at least be vaguely affordable at $5 per ride, $17 per week or $60 per month -- inexpensive if they're supplementing or replacing a car for the daily drive.

As with similar deployments, the city hopes this will reduce traffic and emissions (while making a tidy sum for Via, of course). You might have less of an urge to use or even own a car if Via covers most of your needs. However, this could also be considered a preemptive strike. Apple is said to be working on self-driving employee shuttles that could fulfill a similar role. Via's vans could snap up some of that market before those autonomous shuttles arrive, not to mention offer service to people who aren't Apple employees.