The hard thing about good things

Our Series B investment in Remix, the platform to design a city’s transportation future

Ask an urban dweller for her biggest gripes about her home city, and transit is likely to be near the top of the list. Our cities are becoming more dense, but our transportation infrastructure has struggled to keep up. So despite our urbanization (or perhaps because of it), our commute times have been rising.

Meanwhile, transport-driven greenhouse gas emissions have remained stubbornly high, recently surpassing electricity as the largest source of emissions in the U.S.

And we still use an incredible amount of our valuable urban land for surface parking which often sits empty despite an urgent need to build more housing in many cities.

Fortunately, momentum is building for a new wave of urban mobility in the form of cleaner, more efficient electric buses, autonomous shuttles driving highly trafficked routes, and electric scooters and bikes replacing vehicle trips.

These new forms of mobility are exciting, and offer the promise of a multimodal, cleaner, efficient urban transportation future. But the opposite is also possible. Without oversight, it’s easy to imagine scooters blocking sidewalks, ridesharing causing even more congestion, and public transit ridership slowly but consistently declining.

So our idyllic urban mobility dream will only come to fruition if these modes are coordinated, monitored and enforced by local authorities. Cities have the unique ability to design roads and intersections according to the needs of the population, define public transit routes and schedules to ensure equitable access, and ensure pedestrian safety — all of which can help seamlessly integrate the myriad options that will be available to tomorrow’s transit customer. For more, see this excellent thread from Ryan Popple, CEO of electric bus leader Proterra.

City DOTs and transit agencies already do this admirably, but the more new options arrive for us as passengers, the harder their task becomes.

We at Energy Impact Partners appreciate this challenge, as it shares many similarities with the challenge utilities (our partners) face with the influx of distributed energy resources such as electric vehicles and smart thermostats. These resources hold enormous promise, but their value is dependent on maximizing their contribution to a bigger system via visibility and intelligent orchestration.

Like utilities and electricity, cities can become network operators for the transportation system, coordinating a mix of public and private resources for the benefit of the entire population. For example:

  • Street design can incorporate designated scooter parking areas, mitigating sidewalk congestion
  • Cities can issue, and enforce, rules to ensure micromobility safety and equitable access (and many of them already are)
  • Public transit routes can be engineered to complement the availability of private options

And so much more. Add in the opportunities and challenges presented by TNCs (Uber, Lyft) and the coming introduction of autonomous vehicles, and you have an enormous set of opportunities and challenges for cities.

So we’re excited to be leading a $15m Series B investment in Remix, the operating platform for cities to manage this brave new world. Remix offers cities an intuitive, cloud-based toolkit to design, collaborate, monitor and enforce the urban right-of-way, including:

  • Design of and analytics on public transit routes (a service already in use in over 300 cities)
  • Street design to support new transit modes and evolving mobility patterns
  • Real-time visibility, management and enforcement of private new mobility services

Among their many strong qualities, the Remix team has impressed us with their deeply customer-centric mindset. Remix is full of former transit and urban planners, and it shows in their product. Their software is easy to use and purpose-built for what cities need — which is good, because what cities need is becoming more complex.

Cities will be key to unlocking the promise of a new urban mobility paradigm, and we’re proud to be partnering with the company that will help them do so.

Shayle Kann is Senior Vice President of Research & Strategy at Energy Impact Partners, the leading energy technology innovation fund. More details on the investment: http://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2019/02/27/1743465/0/en/Remix-Raises-15-Million-in-Series-B-Funding-Led-by-Energy-Impact-Partners.html