TransLoc coming to Memphis to overcome “the first mile”

People in general like the idea of having public transit and want to use it. Turns out though, people aren’t generally willing to walk very far to catch a bus. Sometimes, it just is not readily available or accessible, or it is too far from people’s homes to conveniently get to.

According to North Carolina-based TransLoc, which announced a public –private partnership with the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) in January, most people say that 1/4 of a mile is about as far as they’d be willing to walk to get to public transit. Of course that can seem far on some days. And, no wants to walk two or three miles in work shoes when the weather is bad.

Transloc is trying to solve this problem, filling what they call the “first mile” and “last mile” of a commute. Bridging the gap between the “first mille” and the “last mile” of a commute is key to getting more users on public transit, says TransLoc CEO Doug Kaufman. TransLoc wants to use ride-sharing service Uber to make those miles as seamless as possible. The TransLoc app integrates public transit schedules with ride-sharing services so that riders can get dropped off at transit points. Memphis is the pilot city for the app’s new integrated services, which will launch soon.

The basic idea is that if people did not have to walk so far to the nearest public transit stop to get to work, more people would utilize public transit. If taking public transit involves a 1.5 mile walk to the nearest train or ideal bus stop, a commute that is 15minutes by car can turn into a commute that takes over an hour when you combine the walking to public transit, waiting for the bus or train, the actual ride itself, and then the last bit of walking to work from the train or bus. If people could turn that commute into maybe a thirty minute commute if they were driven from home to the bus or from the bus to work, it may become a very attractive, viable option for commuters.

Transloc, the app, and the MATA are hoping that with one click in the rider application, people will get an UBER right to their stop on time for the public transit option.

The benefits of public transit are plentiful of course; including less congestion, better air quality, and access to jobs and businesses of course.

I think this partnership has potential to work out well. While I do not think it is as well thought out or as practical as KC’s partnership with Bridj which I discussed last week, I do think that this can be beneficial to commuters who want to take public transit but do not have realistic access to it. I did not see how the pay system would work in the article, but I would imagine taking an Uber every day from either your house or work to the public transit stop would be expensive and may make it an unrealistic option for some. The fact that there is a transfer is not ideal of course but if it is possible to time it such that you may only have to wait a couple minutes, people may find it no big deal.

I would like to know if they will integrate the payment, or if MATA would subsidize TransLoc or Uber to provide the service to make it more accessible and attractive. I am also worried about the increased Uber cars that may be driving around Memphis and its suburbs. If it is a one to one ratio, where one person who used to drive to work takes one Uber to the bus stop, it seems that that does not really take cars off the road, though it does make the number of cars going into downtown less which is certainly a benefit.

About TransLoc

TransLoc is a technology company that allows you to check the status of various public transit vehicles like buses in real time. According to their website, their mission is to “take public transit from last resort for some, to first choice for all.”

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