The first wave of mobility technology companies came to market with the promise of replacing private car ownership, but mounting evidence suggests that ride-sharing has actually worsened congestion and competes primarily with public transit. While a second wave of micromobility-focused startups is causing controversy by dropping fleets of bikes and scooters in towns around the country, a fresh batch of companies is bringing high-tech capabilities to beleaguered transit agencies that are trying to manage the untamed mobility frontier.
Several new tools and platforms built around the notion that cities are the ultimate customer for new mobility technology solutions have been introduced just this week:
- Daimler’s Moovel is launching a new marketplace platform that allows transit authorities to integrate everything from ride-sharing to micromobility to traditional public transit into single-price passes. By bundling modes of mobility into a single pass, transit officials can make their services more competitive with traditional car ownership, while Moovel positions itself as a near-universal mobility payment platform.
- Remix launched two new products this week aimed at helping cities get a handle on the explosion of new mobility options: Remix for New Mobility, which helps cities visualize and manage data from bikes and scooters, and Remix for Streets, which gives planners tools to prioritize and design infrastructure for the new range of mobility options.
- Populus also launched a mobility analytics platform this week called Populus Mobility Manager, which consolidates multimode mobility data into tools that help planners develop policies and manage infrastructure investments.
- Passport announced it is investing $5 million to expand its parking management platform to include curb management for ride-sharing, dockless scooters and bike-sharing. The expansion combines data analytics with flexible payments and permitting, effectively applying the firm’s parking management expertise to micromobility.
While startups and established government and technology players compete to build tools integrating the wide range of mobility options, BMW and Daimler are bringing together their diverse portfolios of mobility investments into a single multimodal network. The two companies, which compete vigorously in the traditional auto industry, are integrating their mobility services in a newly announced headquarters in Berlin. Encompassing multimodal payment platforms such as Moovel, car-sharing through ReachNow/DriveNow and Car2Go, ride hailing with mytaxi, Clever Taxi and others, parking with ParkNow and Parkmobile, and EV charging, the Daimler-BMW effort is attempting to bring a mobility ecosystem under one roof.
With Uber, the dominant first-wave mobility technology company, pivoting from an autonomous rideshare to a multimodal platform strategy, the race to aggregate more services onto mobility platforms is only just heating up. What remains to be seen is whether cities and transit agencies themselves will manage this aggregation through the recently launched platforms targeting them, or whether entire plug-and-play ecosystems such as Uber’s or Daimler-BMW’s effectively reduce public transit agencies to providers of bus and train services on their platforms. Different solutions will likely be adopted in different cities, but at least agencies that want to get a handle on the explosion of new mobility options have some tools.
— Edward Niedermeyer