Oregon travelers pilot multimodal transportation application

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Travelers in Oregon will be the first in the USA to be able to make use of a new multimodal transportation smartphone application, which aims to solve the problems of ‘first-mile – last-mile’ trips.

The Tri-County Metropolitan District of Oregon (TriMet), which covers the Portland metropolitan area, is the first US transit agency to pilot the RideTap feature that enables riders to tap into nearby transportation options from one app to help with the first or last mile of their journeys. The agency’s riders now have the ability to connect with other transportation options as part of a new feature in its TriMet Tickets mobile app, called RideTap, which currently includes ride-sharing services Lyft, and car sharing service car2go, with more options, including BIKETOWN bike sharing, expected be included in the near future. Last month, GlobeSherpa, the maker of the TriMet Tickets app, merged with Austin, Texas-based RideScout to form Moovel North America, Daimler’s answer to the current disconnect between public and private transportation options in North America. Moovel has developed the RideTap app that is being piloted in the Portland region.

The unveiling of the pilot comes at an opportune time for the region’s travelers due to two weeks of transit service disruptions caused by the 1st Ave MAX Improvements Project. Riders can take advantage of the new tool, with both Lyft and car2go offering discounts to riders through the TriMet Tickets app. In addition, more Lyft drivers and car2go vehicles also will be positioned near high-traffic transit stations throughout the metro area. The new RideTap app could provide a step toward delivering on technology the City of Portland and its partners are pursuing as a finalist for the Smart City Challenge, which would grant the winners US$50m from the US Department of Transportation and Seattle-based Vulcan Inc. The Portland proposal would create ‘Ubiquitous Mobility’, an app that would provide a comprehensive connection of all public and private transportation assets into an interactive network.

“We hope this new feature will help our riders find options for their first or last mile of a trip, allowing them to more easily reach their destinations,” said Alan Lehto, director of policy and planning at TriMet. “We’re looking forward to getting feedback from our riders to see if the new tool helps improve their ability to use transit and other modes to reach their destinations.”

Nat Parker, CEO of Moovel, noted, “We are committed to improving Portland’s transportation ecosystem, with public transit at its core. TriMet was GlobeSherpa’s first mobile ticketing customer, and we’re now excited to extend the transit experience with car2go and Lyft offerings through our RideTap SDK, which can be integrated into any app.”

City of Portland transportation director, Leah Treat, commented, “Congratulations to TriMet and Moovel on a breakthrough that continues the long tradition of Portland transportation innovation. Our Portland Streetcar system was an early adopter of the GlobeSherpa mobile ticketing technology. With public and private partnerships and bold ideas like this, our Smart City Challenge proposal will make improve lives by making transportation safer, easier, and more reliable.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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