Technology provider TransLoc develops tools to help transit agencies better track vehicles and riders using real-time information. Earlier this year it launched an app for Clemson, South Carolina’s CATbus that allows riders to not only view buses in real time but see how full they are, using a first-of-its-kind seat availability feature.
More importantly, TransLoc is also using its new tech platform to help transit agencies plan for flexible, on-demand service that can supplement fixed routes to more efficiently serve areas of low density or ridership. TransLoc CEO Doug Kaufman will provide more information on his company’s work as a speaker at the national shared mobility summit Move Together on September 28-30 in Chicago. For more information, or to register, click here.
The following is a lightly edited version of the Shared-Use Mobility Center’s conversation with Doug Kaufman.
How did the idea for TransLoc come about?
When our founder [Josh Whiton] was a student at North Carolina State University, he spent an hour at a bus stop waiting for a bus that wasn’t running and decided there had to be a better way. That came in the form of the simple yet unprecedented idea of showing riders their bus moving on a map in real time. As technology has evolved and gone mobile, TransLoc has continued to be on the leading edge of what is possible.
There’s been a lot of talk about agencies moving to using flexible routes to serve low-density areas. Do you see this becoming a common solution in the near future?
Flexible routes are a great solution for low-density areas, allowing agencies to maximize their service in a way that complements high-density fixed routes, and I think it will become more common. I think on-demand is also more broadly applicable for transit agencies.
Change is always hard, and the current transit climate has compressed a lot of change into a relatively short period of time. It makes sense for agencies to want to be intentional in their approach and begin with paratransit, low-density, or first mile/last mile, but as they begin to make on-demand a core part of their service it will make the whole system look different. We view on-demand as part of a holistic solution that includes both fixed and flexible routes, adding layers to the overall transit network to more fully support the community’s needs.
Can you share some updates on projects you are currently working on? Do you have a favorite project you’re most excited about?
The driving force behind our product development is really a high-level focus on solving transit’s biggest problems, rather than individual or custom projects.
For us that means looking at the big picture of how agencies produce and consume data, and how that relates to our goal of connecting agencies and riders to make transit the first choice for all. We don’t see the solution to the biggest problems as solely dependent on us; there are a lot of companies building great things. The TransLoc platform will leverage the collective value of these technologies, creating a structure that enables them to communicate seamlessly and provides infinitely more value to the agencies.
To reference an African proverb, “if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” We want to create a space where companies working to move transit forward can work together.
What is most interesting to you about today’s transportation landscape? What’s your utopian vision for the future of transportation?
As a technology company with an ambitious mission, I find the intersection of technology availability and market-readiness really interesting. Everyone moves around, transportation impacts everyone, and there is an openness to explore innovative ways to solve these problems that fundamentally impacts everyone in this country. The money flowing into the transportation space from investors is a testament to the readiness for innovation.
As that innovation plays out, we have a clear vision of what it will look like when transit is truly the first choice for all. Riders will have numerous, cost-effective options to move around that work together seamlessly across service, payment and technology infrastructures. It’s a day when mass transit is preferred over a car because it’s just a better experience.
How do you see shared mobility and public transit working together?
Public transit isn’t the only option, but it is the one with the most leverage. It can’t do it alone, though, and using that leverage in concert with other modes means the system as a whole can reach its ultimate potential. That’s what we want to enable.
What are you most looking forward to at the Move Together summit?
It’s encouraging any time you get a forward-looking group of people together trying to solve big problems; we’re all here because we want to make transit better for everyone.
What are your hobbies outside transportation?
The entrepreneur in me enjoys building things, and I still study psychology. I also enjoy sports and cooking.