Austin’s RideScout Picks Up Steam, Rolling Out to Dozens of Cities

5/8/14Follow @angelashah

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showing old legacy systems and newer emerging systems how we can use transparency in time, prices, safety, and reliability to promote their services. Each has a ratings system on the app, which becomes self-policing. That’s a really powerful tool to regulate the market and adds an additional layer of safety that doesn’t exist in the current taxi industry.

It’s a challenge to go through all of the different systems, city councils, or state agencies that control taxi and limousine services. Even private companies have standing relationships with different agencies. Hotels have always done it the same way; they call the one taxi company for guests. But now guests can use on-demand ride services on RideScout and they can choose how to get to the airport.

Our rule is if it’s safe, legal, and reliable, we’ll show it. In Austin, you’re not allowed to use Sidecar, so we don’t show Sidecar as a solution.

X: What made you come up with an idea like RideScout?

JK: I think everybody’s been at that point in the day when they get stuck and their transportation requirements change at the last minute. You’re drinking a beer and now don’t want to drive a car.

I was standing at my corner in Arlington, Virginia, trying to catch a bus to get to work [at the Pentagon]. There were two or three [transportation] agencies for me to get to work. Which is better? I went looking for a website that would do all this for me. I didn’t find it.

So I’m crazy enough to try to build it. If it’s a problem for me, and I’m an aerospace engineer, what happens in the lives of everyone else, who can’t apply the same rigor and math to this? My friends got involved, and we turned it into a company. That was in spring 2011, and I moved to Austin that summer.

X: Talk about the recent drunk driving deaths in Austin lately, and the conversation around reliable transportation, either public or private, to keep people from getting behind the wheel?

JK: The only way to do it right is you have to give people options to get downtown without their car. Otherwise you’re not going to solve the DUI problem. The car is the problem. We show people lots of different options to get down there and ways to get back reliably and safely.

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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