This makes a lot of sense.
Technology companies might soon upend Houston’s paid ride market, but they’re already adding new options for getting around the region.
Local groups and software developers are tapping into Houston’s sophisticated traffic management system to offer solutions beyond heading onto the freeway. The hope is that better information will help people decide when their best option is to walk, grab a bus, ride a bicycle or share a ride. And when they drive, real-time information can help them choose the best route – and to find a parking spot.
“Not only is there individual benefit but collective benefit,” said Nick Cohn, global congestion expert for the mapping company TomTom.
Austin-based RideScout [launched last] Monday in 69 cities, including Houston. The free smartphone app connects people with other services nearby, such as Metro buses and trains, taxis, ZipCar car rental locations and B-Cycle kiosks.
Laying out the options could help some people avoid solo car travel by picking transit or a carpool.
“When people in Houston realize they can commute in and are going to be (a passenger) in a car and not behind the wheel and when they get downtown realize they can ride transit or take a cab … it frees them up,” said Joseph Kopser, co-founder and CEO of RideScout.
Metro and Houston B-Cycle have their own smartphone apps that help link interested riders to their services. The problem is these apps focus on one product rather than laying out all the options, Kopser said.
“This was no different than the airlines 15 years ago,” Kopser said. “They all had websites, and when you were searching for flights you had to go to all the different websites.”
Since then, sites have emerged that gather fares from all carriers and then show users options. Kopser said RideScout is aiming to provide the same service for travel around cities. The app displays all of the services, as well as ridesharing and traffic data, on one map.
Houston can be – how can I put this delicately? – a challenging city to navigate, especially if you’re new or just visiting here. One of the unsung values of public transportation is that it’s a lot friendlier to visitors than driving in an unfamiliar city is. Connecting the dots on our transportation network will make getting around easier and less stressful for a lot of people. The app is available here, and according to their blog they have information on Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and El Paso as well.