New modes of shared transportation, from ride-sharing to dockless scooters, hold promise for improving how citizens move around their cities, but cities across North America need new tools and systems to effectively manage these emergent modes of transportation. Passport has set out to partner with municipalities to create a bridge between city infrastructure, like curb space, and private sector mobility companies that interact with people using that space.
The company is announcing a $5million investment to expand the Passport Platform, which helps connect multiple modes of transportation and payments, and provides a way for cities to understand, manage, and collaborate with an increasingly complex ecosystem of mobility services.
“We have heard from hundreds of cities across the world — our own clients and prospective clients — and they told us they continue to struggle to manage their curbside assets and create an environment that can handle, and even encourage, new modes of transportation,” said Bob Youakim, Passport CEO. “That’s why we developed the Passport Platform, which helps municipalities connect their mobility data, extract insights about the utilization of public space, and provide an interface to make and communicate operational changes in real time across each connected system. This can dramatically improve a city’s ability to accommodate the rapid pace of on-street innovation and makes it simpler and more predictable to deploy new technologies to improve urban mobility. It also enables them to better serve the people in their communities.”
With over 50 existing integrations into some of the largest mobility technologies, Passport has deep experience bringing it all together. With this new investment, the company is looking to bolster its platform and enable cities to connect additional services, such as ride-share, dockless scooter, and bike services, as well as any other new technologies that are introduced in the future such as autonomous vehicles.
“Municipalities need to build solutions that anticipate the future and new technologies that might be introduced tomorrow,” explained Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Data Smart City Solutions Project at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and former Deputy Mayor of New York and Mayor of Indianapolis. “City officials will be continuously challenged to manage the issues that new services, such as Bird and Uber, bring to their cities. As companies introduce these technologies often without a formalized partnership with the city or path to compliant entry, they create pressure on cities to adapt to the demands of the market. Cities need their own dynamic platform in order to respond to these new services, which will help officials assemble information, seamlessly integrate new technology quickly, and manage everything in real time on their own terms.”
For example, one of the biggest challenges that cities currently face is how they can manage the sudden influx of dockless scooters and bikes. While citizens tend to adopt them as an easy way to get around cities, these micro-mobility services cause unforeseen issues as they vie for valuable sidewalk and curbside space. Without the ability to provide a scalable path to compliant entry into their cities, city leaders are stuck in the middle trying to reactively manage it all. Most of these cities, including San Francisco, Portland, and Oklahoma City, have been forced, for the sake of speed and simplicity, to implement permit regulations for these modes, which don’t allow the cities to incentivize the appropriate use of public space or optimize for congestion relief or bad air days in real time. However, these medallion-like programs are proving to not be the most effective way to regulate these services, and leaders are already calling for more of a parking-focused solution instead.
“Like other forms of transportation, one of the best-proven ways to manage micro-mobility services will be the implementation of parking-like rules and policies like cities use for on-street parking. Paid parking systems are well-understood, effective, proportional, and flexible,” explained Youakim. “At Passport, we have deep expertise, having already helped over 450 clients manage business rules, collect payment, and ensure compliance through our platform. The same framework makes it easier for cities and mobility providers to work together to come up with mutually beneficial, usage-based pricing that balances the need for innovation with the need for consistency.”
By enabling a more flexible way to extract data-driven insights from multiple systems, and then allowing the cities to act upon them in real time, the Passport Platform is the first in the industry to give the municipal leaders the power to effectively manage their cities from one platform. Passport is already working with five out of the top 50 fastest growing cities in the U.S. by creating pilot programs to enable them to be more effective with the way they manage mobility. In the past three months, the company has doubled its engineering resources and it has hired product, engineering and M&A leaders to ensure the success of this program.