The Station: Via hits $2.25B valuation, letters from readers, layoffs in a time of COVID-19

Hi, and welcome back to The Station, a weekly newsletter dedicated to all the ways people and packages travel from Point A to Point B. I’m your host Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch. If this is your first time, hello; I’m glad you’re with us. I have started to publish a version of…

The Station: Via hits $2.25B valuation, letters from readers, layoffs in a time of COVID-19

Hi, and welcome back to The Station, a weekly newsletter dedicated to all the ways people and packages travel from Point A to Point B. I’m your host Kirsten Korosec, senior transportation reporter at TechCrunch. If this is your first time, hello; I’m glad you’re with us.
I have started to publish a version of the newsletter on TechCrunch. That’s what you’re reading now. For the whole newsletter, which comes out every weekend, you can subscribe by heading over here, and clicking “The Station.” It’s free!
Last week, I asked readers to share how they were doing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The response was overwhelming. It wasn’t just the number of you who reached out. It was your words — devoid of pretense, the veneer exposed — that struck me.
There were, of course, those who used the opportunity to make a marketing push or pitch a story. I get the impulse, but you won’t be rewarded here. I’m seeking something different. And I will share below some of what you sent me in hopes that it provides insight, solace or, dare I suggest, an esprit de corps among us.
I will repeat my appeal from last week: Maybe you’re a startup founder, a safety driver at an autonomous vehicle developer, a venture capitalist, engineer or gig economy worker. I’m interested in how you’re doing, what you’re doing to cope and how you’re getting around in your respective cities.
Please reach out and email me at kirsten.korosec@techcrunch.com to share thoughts, opinions or tips or send a direct message to @kirstenkorosec.
Micromobbin’

As we’ve seen the past few weeks, operators are stepping up to respond and adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lyft began offering its scooters for free to healthcare and other essential workers. As part of the program, up to 30-minute rides will be free for members of critical workforces through April 30 in Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, the Washington D.C. metro area, San Diego and Santa Monica.
Spin, similarly, introduced a new initiative that provides free, 30-minute rides and helmets to essential healthcare workers. Spin, which began offering this on April 1, is making this available in Baltimore, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Tampa and Washington, D.C.
‘Micromobility winter on steroids’
That’s how RideReport CEO William Henderson described the current state of the micromobility industry in a recent interview with TechCrunch reporter Megan Rose Dickey.
Ride Report creates software that enables cities to work with micromobility operators. That gives Henderson a bird’s-eye view on the industry, which he shared with TechCrunch.
Yep, this is an Extra Crunch article, and you need a subscription. A few of the highlights include biking as one of the few bright spots, how some companies have pivoted to providing rides to healthcare workers and insights on how the industry and cities might have reacted had the pandemic occurred two years in the future.
A novel rewards program
These times have sparked a host of new ideas. Here’s one. A Nashville-based startup called Hytch Rewards developed an app that companies and governments can use to give their employees incentives to walk, bike, rideshare or use public transit. The company’s entire purpose has been to reward commuter behavior that reduces traffic congestion and lowers emissions.
Now it’s pivoting to reward people for staying at home. The office of Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper is among the first employer to partner on Hytch’s Shelter in Place initiative, which offers a small daily reward to staff for working from home.
— Megan Rose Dickey  (with a cameo from Kirsten Korosec)
Deal of the week

This week, we’ll highlight Via’s Series E funding round that was led by Exor. The on-demand shuttle startup raised $400 million, TechCrunch learned. Exor contributed $200 million of that raise. The remaining $200 million came from new investors Macquarie Capital,
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