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TransLoc, Uber

The nature of the public transit system makes it inherently complex to navigate. With an amalgam of schedules, stops, routes and vehicles, determining the most optimal way to get somewhere can be a challenge. The advent of open data (such as GTFS), mapping tools (such as OpenStreetMap) and mobile apps makes getting from one place to another with transit much simpler.

But this isn’t nearly good enough. The existing solutions, including our mobile app—the aforementioned TransLoc Rider, don’t bring a truly seamless experience to riding transit. Options such as Uber, Lyft, or even driving your own car are seen as simpler and less headache-inducing than riding public transit. Starting March 3rd, we’re going to change that. Your mobile app should do more than just tracking.

In January, we announced our partnership with Uber to solve the first-mile / last-mile problem (FM/LM). This integration has the ability to “eliminate public transit’s FM/LM problem,” but the vision is even more grand. Our goal is to make taking transit as viable and experientially fulfilling as driving your own car. We do this by combining multiple modes of transportation together in a single trip to offer the best option to you, the rider. We believe that public transit should remain at the heart of the American mobility system, and we’re pushing toward a world where public transit is, in a single word, seamless.

Our first iteration of the integration is far from perfect and nowhere near what it will take to achieve our lofty goals, but in the words of LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” This doesn’t mean the product is unusable (it is very, very usable) or that you’ll be stranded somewhere random in the middle of the night. This simply means that there are limitations to this first version. As an example, we’re limited to offering FM/LM options only with transit agencies participating in our pilot program.

On March 3, we go live with our first transit agency here in Durham, NC: GoTriangle. We can’t wait, and we hope you’ll take the journey with us.