Bus Tracking Startup Offers Simple Solutions to Riders and Transit Agencies
Where is my bus?
Everyone has asked this question at least once as they wait in suspense at bus stops all over the country. Usually it’s a rhetorical question, but one transit technology company is working hard to get you the answer.
TransLoc, a North Carolina-grown startup, was founded 11 years ago by Josh Whiton and is currently based out of Durham. The company got its start by simply asking the question “where is my bus?” This lead them to create a GPS tracking system that could show both riders and agencies exactly where their bus is on its route.
Fast forward to 2016, and the company now provides four different solutions for both transit riders and agencies: TransLoc Realtime, TransLoc Rider, TransLoc Traveller, and TransLoc OnDemand. Each of these answers a different question:
- TransLoc RealTime – Where are the buses in my fleet?
- TransLoc Traveller – Where are my riders?
- TransLoc Rider – Where is my bus?
- TransLoc OnDemand – I need a safe ride. Who can pick me up?
TransLoc RealTime is essentially a control center for transit agencies, allowing them to see exactly where their buses are on their routes. This allows agencies to give their customers up to date information on buses, but more importantly when combined with TransLoc Traveler it can tell agencies with routes are busiest, where their passengers are taking the bus, and how demand changes during the day. The Traveler platform also allows agencies to communicate directly with their riders and vice versa.
Launched in 2012, TransLoc Rider is a free downloadable app (it can also be used on desktops) that shows passengers exactly where their ride is (take a look at how it works here – Johns Hopkins University TransLoc Integration). This gives customers a look into how their transit agency works and simultaneously keeps them informed as they travel to their destination. Commuters also have the chance to offer feedback to transit agencies. TransLoc has run Rider pilots in North Carolina and Tennessee that have integrated Uber and Amtrak with the TransLoc Rider app – allowing riders to plan a multimodal trip with a single app.
TransLoc OnDemand operates much like UberPool – however, the service is free. The caveat being that currently, OnDemand’s presence is primarily on university campuses (23 universities to be exact, according to this August 2016 press release) and that it is limited by time and geographic constraints. Meaning that off-campus students may not be able to hail a ride and a student may not be able to get plan a trip if they request a ride outside of posted operating hours.
The company’s all-encompassing approach to transportation is starting to have a major impact. Over the past year, partnerships with Uber and most recently with the North Carolina Department of Transportation have accelerated the growth of the tech company.
When asked what’s next for the company, current CEO Doug Kaufman stated that TransLoc is looking to expand their technology to other modes of transportation (as mentioned above, they are starting to do this with their integration with Uber and Amtrak) however he also expressed a desire for their expansion to be highly strategic which also means more time and resources. While this presents a challenge for the start up, they are certainly in an enviable position in their home state.
Wake County, North Carolina voters just approved a 10-year transit plan that aims to connect the entire region, create reliable and frequent transit, and increase access to transit for all members of the community. This one-half cent sales tax will now go towards the regional transportation authority – GoTriangle (also known as the Research Triangle Regional Public Transportation Authority).
The good news for TransLoc? They are already partnered with GoTriangle. The regional transit agency was also a part of the early 2016 Uber/TransLoc partnership and the company still provides bus tracking for the agency.
While there’s still much work to be done, TransLoc’s mission of making public transit the first choice for all has obviously struck a note across the country. The important partnerships that they continue to land are proof of this.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article said TransLoc OnDemand serves 87 Universities. OnDemand serves 23 Universities and TransLoc serves a total of 87 campuses with various products.