"These Smart Cities are partly a response to the rapid growth of on-demand transit services, and how well these companies have used data to optimize their services."
Among the deluge of media coverage that surrounded the US Presidential election, there was one interesting story you may have missed – Moovit, the public transit-app and mapping service partnered with non-profit Rock the Vote to drive voter turnout. This partnership enabled Moovit users to be notified of the quickest and easiest route to polling stations - no matter if this route involved public transit, bike-sharing services, or Uber. To quote a Rock the Vote spokeswoman; "One key public transit destination that young voters should not miss this year is the voting booth — and with polling place information now built into the Moovit app, we hope that they won’t.”
In addition to this noble endeavour, Moovit also were runner up in the recent SmartRail World Transit App of the Year Awards, and have experienced some significant growth over this past year so our Editor, Luke Upton, was keen to learn more about the company. He recently caught up with David Klein, Moovit’s North American Manager to talk, challenges, opportunities, what’s coming up next and of course his favourite rail journey…
Luke Upton (LU): Thanks for the time today, so how did you get into working in digital solutions for transit?
David Klein (DK): Back in December of 2015 the US Dept. of Transportation announced the Smart Cities competition, which opened my eyes to what the future had in store for public transit in America. Serendipitously an old colleague contacted me a month later about Moovit ( @ ) , and their desire to grow users and agency relationships within the USA. Nearly a year later it's been a fantastic and rewarding experience.
LU: What do like most about your job?
DK: Gaining a comprehensive view of public transit. I'm speaking with Transit Agencies learning their needs and future plans, while explaining how Moovit may provide the data to help shape this. Holding discussions with leading Social Apps about their users high engagement with mass transit, so we may provide accurate trip planning. Co-bidding with transit infrastructure companies with Moovit serving as the user experience plus data capturing tool. Even, working with Non-Profits like Rock the Vote to promote democracy via Moovit. So many great ideas discussed all through meeting new people is what makes my role so worthwhile.
LU: What’s the biggest challenge in your role?
DK: Prioritizing my partnerships. There are so many great government agencies, companies, and even on-trend activities that engage with public transit daily. I have to ensure I'm engaged with partnerships that will be impactful. Especially as new relationships requires time and effort from both Moovit and our partners, so I want to ensure we create something meaningful for each other with our users front of mind.
LU: What will be some of the biggest differences between transit now and in 10 years’ time?
DK: Currently there are hundreds of apps globally with trip planning and ticketing features. Over the next 10 years will shall see significant consolidation of these features into a few apps that will also include autonomous vehicles, carpooling, parking spaces, and more all based on open data. The catalyst for consolidation is Smart City development and the demand for a platform that provides agencies with data and users ease of access to these multimodal transit options. These Smart Cities are partly a response to the rapid growth of on-demand transit services, and how well these companies have used data to optimize their services. Forthcoming smaller sized autonomous bus fleets as tested in the Netherlands or Germany launching long distance autonomous rail by 2023 show how willing riders and agencies are open to change.
LU: Aside from Moovit, what’s your favourite app and why?
DK: Right now it's Fleet Battle ( Editor - an app game similar to kids classic Battleship). I have family all over the USA and Canada, so there's nothing like a game of Battleship to stay connected and keep the bragging rights going
LU: And finally…. what’s your favourite rail journey?
DK: Being a Bay Area native I'd have to say Caltrain. Nothing gets me back and forth from San Francisco to Silicon Valley easier or faster than rail. Although if it's for vacation Amtrak (pictured above) up to Lake Tahoe is a gorgeous views filled ride.
LU: Great, thanks for the insights, looking forward to tracking Moovit's progress as we move into 2017.
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