While we plan for a future of automated cars, the reality is the public transport is the lifeblood of any smart city. Inherent with the growth of smart city development is an increase in interconnected, zero-emission public transport, city-wide communication systems, monitored traffic and city mapping.
One of the companies involved in such developments is global company Masabi, who create smart transport ticketing to facilitate the travel of tourists and residents around a range of cities.
The company works in partnership with more than twenty-five leading transit agencies and operators in the US, Europe and around the globe, including Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), Keolis, National Express Bus, Virgin Trains, Abellio, MBNA Thames Clippers, New Orleans RTA, Metrolink in Los Angeles, Transport for Athens, and New York’s MTA.
In December, Masabi announced the world’s first mobile ticketing software development kit. The JustRide SDK enables transit app developers to add mobile ticketing capabilities – meaning users can purchase tickets for public transit – directly into their preexisting apps, such as Venmo, WhatsApp and Maps.
This further cuts down on the friction currently required to purchase and use physical tickets. I spoke to CEO Brian Zanghi to learn more.
Zanghi believes that central smart city development is the smartphone as a personal command center:
“If people need to drive into the city, they will find, reserve and pay for parking spots using an app on their phone, without the need for coins and parking meters. Once in the city, an app can be a train ticket, bus timetable and partner with a car or bike sharing app (or in the future an autonomous vehicle provider).”
Zanghi notes that in regards to autonomous vehicles:
“Many companies are getting a ton of investment and we think it’s just a matter of time. We definitely see an opportunity to work with those companies in terms of the first mile-last mile journey accredited with public transportation. We do not believe that any company is going to enter the market with any type of monolithic application. Our efforts are essentially to open up our app and make it easier to integrate into other civic services. I think this SDK product because it makes it really easy for other applications whether that be journey planning apps or other public transportation apps makes it easy for them to work with public transportation and seamlessly go from planning a journey to purchasing a ticket without leaving the app. That’s really the strategy behind it.”
As a company, Masabi is investing currently it’s energies in countries like India and Latin America “where a lot of money is being invested in public transportation unlike places like the UK or North America. So there’s a lot of new investments going into new infrastructure, new systems to track vehicles, and so on.
Those tend to be easier to work with, for you’re not dealing with legacy hardware and legacy gates and there’s a different type of competitor in those markets. Some Latin American countries have an incredibly high penetration of smartphones but still, are fueled by 85-95% cash transactions.
And what we’re seeing is a lot of private companies in Latin America — that are the solution to anti-banking sentiments there — that are finding huge success by working with retail outlets and converting cash into electronic tokens which can be recognized on public transportation. So, it’s an area that Masabi is paying a lot of attention to really figuring out how we can innovate public transportation in those markets.”
The future may be focused on autonomous vehicles, but the cities of the future will always need public transport to reduce road congestion and pollution, foster car-free city precincts, and enable a large population to move around, many of whom will be aging. Companies like Masabi will be at work behind the scenes, making it happen.