It might not rank with humanitarian efforts to end hunger, disease, or poverty, but there is one other global problem that, if we were to solve it, just might propel us into a new age of cooperation, civility, and happiness. Imagine our world without – traffic.
Think of all the stress and hostility produced while simply trying to get from one place to the other!
Technology is helping us to do wonderful things to untangle our knotted transit systems. From ride shares to cars and taxis on demand, parking finders to public transit apps – commendable energy is going into helping us learn our options and move around our cities more easily and conveniently.
On the other hand, it would be fair to say that the traffic marketplace is highly fractured. If we don’t figure out how to connect these tools, we’re likely to produce a system that doesn’t cut through the clutter or help us to get around more efficiently.
All of which is to say that I think the startup RideScout takes a very interesting approach to navigating traffic. This mobile app aggregates transportation options, making it easy to search, compare, and elect a mode of travel on demand. By simply entering a destination, users can then see a list of bus, rail, taxi, bike, walking, driving, bikeshare, car2go and Sidecar possibilities – and choose the most desirable way to reach a destination factoring in time of travel, expense, and type of transportation.
A Kayak™ for ground transportation, if you will, RideScout integrates with other transportation apps and provides information in real time, giving a comprehensive picture of transit options in the moment. If it can’t unclog the streets by itself, the app should at least make it much easier to plan routes or find our way around on the fly.
RideScout is based in DC, where it was selected last October as the winner in the Smart Cities category at the 1776 Challenge Cup DC Regional Competition. I can only imagine how complicated it is to ask citizens to adopt the technology, form partnerships, and manage all the data from various public, private, and social forms of transportation in one city. Early success, however, has fueled RideScout plans to enter the national Challenge Cup competition in May and to expand into cities throughout the U.S.
No one is going to make city traffic as smooth and fast as an Olympic bobsled course overnight, but strategically at least – accounting for the forest and the trees – RideScout gives me reason to feel optimistic that transportation headaches can be relieved. Find more information on the company, as well as on founders Craig Cummings and Joseph Kosper, on AngelList.