We’ve long been told that a single app is not a single company.
Yet even for the most ambitious players in the space, success has been elusive.
Now a new app developer hopes to take what worked for Uber, and use it to develop a smarter, smarter intercity transit network – one that will eliminate our dependence on cars altogether.
Innovators in the field hope the rewards will outpace the pitfalls as they try to regain momentum and build on the success of Transportation Network Company (TNC) Uber.
The app – called RIDEHOOP, short for Republico of Mobility – was revealed by Silicon Valley company BX Lab on Friday at a Mobile Summit in Washington DC.
The app, designed for drivers and passengers, reportedly combines the tools of Uber and Lyft to provide more tailored, seamless experiences.
It is currently being developed by BX Lab, a new company launched by Facebook veteran-turned-investor Ben Horowitz, and a number of ex-Googlers. It has raised $5 million in seed funding from private investors and investors from within the tech community.
Drivers can use the app to find customers (from nearby suburbs) and schedule trips directly, taking less time and stress out of navigating a city.
If a location is not within walking distance, the rider can call a number to arrange pickup, which will include the user’s own phone number.
What the app lacks is a no-fee ride option. This is a key differentiator from Lyft and Uber, and a way to “move the industry towards more consistent ownership”, according to Horowitz.
The app itself is available for download, and it’s a solid working prototype. For a closer look, we’ve reviewed it and found it functional and intuitive to use.
The app is slick and user-friendly – rides offered in the early moments are on route and predictable. Also, it’s secure, with a user’s personal information encrypted once they sign up.
But users should keep in mind the app is a prototype, and plenty of things could change between now and the launch of Republico of Mobility. We think it’s attractive, but it’s not perfect.
In particular, Republico of Mobility must address the problem of insurance – RIDEHOOP uses its own insurance company, but you have to remember drivers are contractually required to insure their rides with a third party insurer.
Also, many TNC’s already have access to digital maps and data-sharing platforms like Waze, which will be instrumental to making the project work.
RIDEHOOP hopes to use the GPS technology in cars to deliver this information to the app – like “fast lane lapping” in a car – with the hopes of making driving simpler and more intuitive.
Existing car-free programs for seniors like Ford GoBike and Spot on the Park in New York City already utilise similar technology.
No specific date has been set for the launch of Republico of Mobility, but Horowitz, who has also invested in the transportation startups Getaround and Uncuffing, told Fortune the app may go live in summer 2019.
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To read our full review, click here.