Smart transportation: the disruptor-broker model

Here are a couple of low- and high-end examples of how real-time data is being applied to disrupt the public transportation sector:

  • As today’s Boston Globe reports, there is a “Data-driven pop-up bus service set to roll out”. When a critical mass of customers is ready for a ride, Bridj will dispatch other bus companies luxury buses to provide point-to-point service within the Boston metro area. The pricing, at $5, is higher than the $2 cost of a subway ride, but less than the $9 that one customer is quoted as otherwise paying for the Uber crowd-sourced taxi alternative.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, Evo-Lux finds and makes markets between excess helicopter capacity and shared-ride customers. The firm refers to its service as a “sky-limo”. Like Bridj, Evo-Lux is focused on providing a more comfortable and efficient ride for customers in congested metro markets, although Evo-Lux also provides transport outward to popular get-away locations.

In both cases, the disruptor is something of a broker, matching excess capacity to a small aggregation of customers with a commonality of temporal and locational need. A membership structure helps the company to identify transportation matches, and the result is a lower price than would be available for a fully private ride.

Is Twitter Replacing the RSS Reader?

rssLast Friday, I was attending Portland’s weekly Beer and Blog event, and I stumbled across what later turned out to be an interesting trend. I had two separate, unrelated conversations about an hour apart with people working in the technology industry who once used RSS readers but had mostly abandoned them in favor of using Twitter to find news and interesting blog posts. I talked to a couple of other friends and posted the question on Twitter, which confirmed that many people are using Twitter as an RSS reader replacement. Read More about Is Twitter Replacing the RSS Reader?

Fisher Coachworks Raises Cash for Lightweight Hybrid Buses

It’s not just cars that are getting a cleantech makeover in Michigan; buses are getting a shot at cleaning up, too. Troy, Mich.-based Fisher Coachworks has raised $3.2 million for its new lightweight plug-in hybrid buses, according to a regulatory filing found by peHub.

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Hybrid buses are becoming a common sight in bus fleets around the world, but Fisher is developing a bus using lightweight stainless steel that it says is half the weight and gets at least twice the fuel efficiency of current hybrid models. The investors in the company were not disclosed, and the regulatory filing says the cash is part of a larger round of funding, expected to pull in a total of $4.25 million for Fisher.

That cash could come in handy, as the company is planning to invest $7 million to set up a factory in Livonia, Mich., to produce the new buses, creating 539 new jobs.

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Signals From the Near Future: The Mobile Guru Panel

GigaOM Mobilize conference -- futurists panel

GigaOM Mobilize conference -- futurists panel

Chetan Sharma of Chetan Sharma Consulting: Let’s talk about the user experience. What does it mean to you in a product that gives you that zen moment for user experience?

John SanGiovanni, Zumobi: We look at the user experience as built on the cognitive theories of flow. User experience means graphic design and usability testing. But design with a capital D is an elegant solution to a hard problem on the front end. So when building a usability experience team, rather than a hiring a UI team,  creata a team that thinks about putting a smile on the user’s face at the end of the day.

Chetan: Search is the starting point of navigation on the PC. How is it going to be on a mobile? Read More about Signals From the Near Future: The Mobile Guru Panel